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Mary P. FollettCreating Democracy, Transforming Management$

Joan C. Tonn

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300096217

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300096217.001.0001

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Private Funds for Public Purposes

Private Funds for Public Purposes

(p.181) 12 Private Funds for Public Purposes
Mary P. Follett

Joan C. Tonn

Yale University Press

Abstract and Keywords

In January 1909 a Women's Municipal League (WML) was established in Boston by a group of influential Back Bay women. For more than ten years, Mary P. Follett would provide creative leadership in the WML, whose mission was to “interest and educate women in municipal housekeeping, to influence women to realize and assume their civic responsibilities.” Her time with the league gave Follett an opportunity to nurture her lifelong interest in “relations” and to make the concept of coordination the cornerstone of her “four fundamental principles of organization.” The WML relied on private funds to conduct experiments as a means of proving the public value of particular social or educational programs. The Boston-1915 movement, a colossal scheme of civic cooperation launched by Edward A. Filene, differed from other “megaorganizations” in scale and objectives. Boston-1915's original program consisted of sixteen planks, some of which supported the concept of an extended use of public schools.

Keywords:   coordination, Women's Municipal League, Boston, Mary P. Follett, private funds, Boston-1915, civic cooperation, megaorganizations, extended use, public schools

In January 1909 the front page of the Boston Globe announced the establishment of a Women's Municipal League (WML) of Boston. For more than a decade, Mary Follett would exercise creative leadership in the WML. Organized by a group of influential Back Bay women, the league reportedly had no intention of preparing women “for active participation in politics”; nor did it intend “to ascend Beacon Hill to inform the members of the general court what laws are needed for the betterment of the feminine portion of the human family.” The avowed purpose of this new women's organization was characteristically restrained: being uncertain about whether “women were taking their fair share in the responsibilities of the municipality,” the league wished to “interest and educate women in municipal housekeeping, to influence women to realize and assume their civic responsibilities.”1

Founders of the WML realized that the public might question the need for yet another civic organization in Boston. For almost twenty years, organizations had been founded for every conceivable purpose—a phenomenon that historians have explained in terms of the pressing needs for municipal services, the seemingly unbounded confidence of reformers in their ability to create societal change, and the determination of a generation of educated women to use their knowledge and skills wherever they were not explicitly excluded. As a consequence, so many new organizations were created, causing (p.182) such inefficiency and duplication of effort, that a new phenomenon began to appear—the “megaorganization,” or federation whose sole purpose for being was the coordination of existing groups. This was precisely the rationale underlying the formation of the Women's Municipal League.

Under the auspices of the league, Mary Follett nourished her lifelong interest in “relations” and achieved a sophisticated understanding of the intricacies of intergroup coordination. By the late 1920s Follett had come to see the concept of coordination as so central to her way of thinking about organizational effectiveness that she made it the cornerstone of her “four fundamental principles of organization.”2

The founders of the Women's Municipal League spent a full year consulting with men involved in public service before revealing their intentions to the general public. Convinced by these discussions of the need to cultivate a membership that would be representative as well as influential, the founders actively sought members from a cross-section of social, ethnic, occupational, and income groups in Boston.3 They visited “working women's clubs, church societies and invaded the tenement districts seeking recruits for the movement.” Also, in a show of good faith, the founders set the league's dues at twenty-five cents. In the words of the Globe reporter, they chose “to be poor in order to attract the women of Boston who needed to be reached to make the organization a success.” The impact of these efforts on the league's membership rolls was dramatic: within two years, 1,170 women had joined, and by 1913 that number had almost doubled.4 To broaden the membership base further, the founders decided to take “no position” on the volatile question of women's suffrage. This decision proved efficacious. The founders attracted to the first two Executive Committees both pro- and antisuffrage women, as well as women who had chosen not to affiliate with either group.5

Representativeness, however, was only one of the elements necessary to achieve the founders' aims. To guarantee the organization's future, the league needed immediate, genuine accomplishments.6 President Katherine Bowlker stressed this theme in her speech at the league's first public meeting and called for action within “the next few months.”7 Believing that “experiments must be tried if the world is to advance,” the league's Executive Committee looked favorably on experimentation in municipal government but thought it “manifestly impossible for the city government to try experiments with public funds.” This apparent dilemma would be resolved, they argued, if the WML and other, similar organizations used private funds to support experiments “of such enduring benefit to the community, that the city will feel itself justified in incorporating them later into its permanent municipal work.” If these “object lessons” were carefully chosen, the league might well come to be seen as “so (p.183) useful and important, so prominent in the city,” that it could not be overlooked.8 The first of these “object lessons” would be directed by Mary Follett.

The strategy of using privately funded experiments as a means of proving the public value of particular social or educational programs was popular in late nineteenth-century Boston, particularly among upper-class women. This Boston tradition would have been a familiar one to Mary Follett. Her primary link to this movement, of course, was Pauline Agassiz Shaw and her active promotion of kindergartens and manual training programs.9 But two other Women's Municipal League colleagues—Alice Goldmark Brandeis and Ella Lyman Cabot—had also been socialized to this particular form of private-public collaboration. Each had played an active role in the early Massachusetts Civic League experiments with privately funded city playgrounds and summer vacation schools.10 Over the next few years, Brandeis and Cabot would become not only Follett's WML colleagues but also her close friends.

Ella Lyman Cabot was descended from one of New England's oldest families and related to another by virtue of her marriage to Richard C. Cabot. Like Mary Follett, Cabot had been a Radcliffe “special student” and a teacher (of ethics and applied psychology) in Boston private schools before agreeing to direct the Massachusetts Civic League's summer vacation schools. The imagination and skillful leadership she displayed in directing the schools made Ella Cabot a sought-after figure in brahmin education circles.11 In 1905 Cabot received appointments to both the State Board of Education and the Radcliffe Board of Governors (where she served until her death in 1934). “Nothing gives such a thrill of joy,” Cabot noted in her diary, “as to hear people want your work.” Women of her wealth and social standing all too often were courted for their checkbooks rather than for their ideas and talents.12

Alice Goldmark Brandeis, the first treasurer of the Massachusetts Civic League and a longtime member of the Governing Committee, became another of Mary Follett's valued colleagues in her school centers work—and later a neighbor and friend. Daughter of Joseph Goldmark, a distinguished revolutionary leader of Vienna, Alice Goldmark was imbued with the “ideals of freedom” and the “rich cultural heritage” that characterized the Jews fleeing European political oppression in 1848. She married Louis D. Brandeis, who early in their marriage was involved in a series of controversial, often bitter public cases such as those involving the Public Franchise League. These cases built Brandeis's reputation as the “People's Attorney,” but the hostility they generated resulted in anti-Semitic attacks and considerable social ostracism for the Brandeis family. Alice Brandeis remained gracious under pressure and raised their two daughters, but she endured extreme fatigue and headaches, particularly as the demands on her husband's time meant his longer absences (p.184) from home. By 1908, however, Alice Brandeis felt well enough to become active in two causes close to her heart—education and women's suffrage.13

Ella Cabot served on the WML Executive Committee, a position she held by virtue of chairing one of the league's three departments, the Department of Education. By the time of the league's first public meeting in January 1909, the department's Committee on the Extended Use of School Buildings, chaired by Mary Follett, had been functioning for several months.14 Joining Follett on her WML committee were Alice Brandeis and Anna Clapp Frothingham; the latter's husband was the distinguished pastor of the Arlington Street Church and a tireless worker on behalf of the poor in Boston charitable organizations. Anna Frothingham's presence helped to establish the committee's nonpartisan character: whereas Brandeis's husband was a well-known Mugwump Democrat, Frothingham's brother-in-law was the Republican lieutenant governor of Massachusetts.15

At the WML's January meeting, President Bowlker announced that Mary Follett's Committee on Extended Use would undertake the first, and therefore most crucial, “object lesson” for the Women's Municipal League. To this end, an anonymous donor, most likely Pauline Agassiz Shaw, had agreed to finance part of the extended use “of one typical city school for neighborhood work during the next year.”16 Years later in a tribute to Shaw, Bowlker acknowledged that “without her help the work of the committee could not have been undertaken,” for she had always “paid more than half the expenses of the Committee on the Extended Use of School Buildings.”17

Follett outlined the social and civic benefits resulting from the extended use of public school buildings in a report issued immediately after the January meeting. Here Follett made her first bold attempt to contrast the limitations of traditional social settlements with the potential benefits of the extended use of schools. The first advantage that she claimed for the public schools was the “public character” of the buildings. On the basis of her work with the Highland Union and the Roxbury Industrial League, she asserted that “the very boys and girls who most need some influence in their lives often will not go to a Settlement … they object to it either because it is a charitable institution, or because they are afraid there will be some one there to ‘uplift’ them … or else they say that it is a place for kids because they know their little brothers and sisters go there.” In contrast, many seemed willing to come to school buildings, because “they feel what they call ‘independent’ there.” The second advantage identified by Follett was equally pragmatic: the large classrooms and gymnasiums typically found in public high schools made it possible to offer athletic events and dances—activities that were promising “bait for more serious work” such as industrial classes. Finally, because the 1890s dream of a (p.185) settlement in every neighborhood had not materialized, Follett noted that there were “not enough Settlements and other social agencies to provide for more than a small number of our young people. Thus on the one hand there is this urgent need, on the other there are all these empty buildings upon which we have spent literally millions and millions of our money. Such a waste of capital seems bad business management on our part.”18

At the same time, Follett recognized that the financial problems that had prompted the School Committee to close the first educational centers had, if anything, grown more serious. Chairman David A. Ellis described the situation in an article in the Christian Science Monitor. According to Ellis, the 1901 legislation that had set the school fund tax rate at $2.75 per $1,000 was “inadequate and has been for a few years back.” Forced for several years to defer the purchase of textbooks, charts, maps, and other supplies, the School Committee now would need $350,000 in addition to its regular appropriation in order to make up the deficiencies and provide sufficient resources for the coming school year. A bill designed to do just that by increasing the tax rate ten cents per year until the deficiencies were made up was pending in the legislature.19

Cognizant of the financial difficulties facing the schools, Follett acknowledged that the School Committee did not have sufficient funds “to develop neighborhood use of the schools.” But she was confident that this obstacle could be overcome “if the public is roused to appreciate the good our school buildings can do when used for evening recreation centres.” To this end, Follett and her colleagues on the WML's Extended Use Committee had spent much time during the winter of 1908–09 not only in “an investigation of many details, but also [in] the awakening of public opinion, both among individuals and organizations.” Follett did not mind. “Patience,” she would later say of herself, “is the only virtue I have ever claimed.”20 One of the activities that she undertook during this winter of preparatory work was an investigation of the extended use of school buildings in New York, Rochester, and Chicago. Finding that these cities had quite different schemes for the use of school buildings, she was hopeful that a series of public meetings describing the alternatives might awaken public opinion, inform those already committed to the extended-use idea, and provide a foundation for cooperation among organizations that wished to promote the concept.

At Follett's urging, several Boston organizations by February 1909 had agreed to a plan that would have Edward J. Ward of Rochester and Gustav Straubenmuller of New York, two nationally recognized experts on extended use, visit Boston to give public speeches and confer informally with leaders of educational, social, and civic organizations who were interested in furthering (p.186) the movement.21 One of the several groups that agreed to sponsor the visit was the Education Committee of the Twentieth Century Club. James P. Munroe, a member of the club's Governing Council, was yet another descendent of an old New England family and treasurer of the family business, the Munroe Felt and Paper Company.22 In January 1909, a little more than a month before the Ward-Straubenmuller visit, Munroe was drawn into the extended-use movement when he accepted an invitation to organize and chair the Home and School Association's Committee on the Further Use of School Buildings.23

The Home and School Association, a federation of nine parents' associations scattered throughout Boston, was not officially organized until December 1907, but it had its origins three years earlier in a parents' group in the Hyde-Sherwin district of Roxbury. The person responsible for launching this new venture was Fannie Fern Andrews, a 1902 Radcliffe graduate who had received her degree in education and psychology at the age of thirty-four. Having founded the Roxbury parents' group under the auspices of the Committee on Public Schools of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government, Andrews quite naturally turned first to the suffrage association's primary patron, Pauline Agassiz Shaw, when funds were being raised to create the Home and School Association.24 Shaw responded by making major contributions and even agreed to accept the honorary title of president, in part because she hoped that a Home and School Association could play an important role in the larger campaign for a more extended use of the schools. “I think this Association … will have it in its power to do more to use the school buildings for the general good of the public (of all ages),” Shaw wrote Andrews in March 1908, “than any other combination of pressure that could now be brought to bear, and you have done it all so wisely, so thoroughly, so quietly, and so practically. I am more happy about it than I can tell you.”25

Over the next few years the Home and School Association “published a monthly newsletter, recommended children's and parent's books, investigated child attendance at Boston theaters, distributed seeds for home and school gardens, arranged school art exhibitions, and propagandized for improved building sanitation.” These endeavors were so warmly welcomed in the city's neighborhoods that by 1909 eighteen branches had been established in Boston school districts. Many of the association's activities implicitly supported the notion of opening school facilities to community groups, but Fannie Fern Andrews wished to go further and explicitly promote the extended use of schools. She was seconded in this aim by the association's treasurer, Robert Treat Paine Jr., who had been a supporter of the extended-use movement since his days as a member of James J. Storrow's educational centers subcommittee.26 As a result, when Edward J. Ward of Rochester arrived in Boston on (p.187) February 15, he was invited to make his first public speech to a meeting of the Home and School Association. He was accompanied on the platform by Boston's Republican mayor, George A. Hibbard, and a Boston schoolmaster.27

The Ward-Straubenmuller visit reflects Mary Follett's determination to involve all important constituencies at the earliest possible stage of her work. On the afternoon of February 16, Ward spoke at the Rindge Manual Training School in Cambridge, where he was introduced by a superintendent of schools who wholeheartedly endorsed the extended use movement and hoped “to see Cambridge adopt the policy which has proved so successful in Rochester.”28 The next day, when Straubenmuller arrived from New York, the two visitors spoke to the largest gathering of the week, the masters and public school teachers of Boston. This meeting was cosponsored by the ten major women's organizations in Boston and was presided over by David Ellis, chairman of the Boston School Committee. That evening, at the Twentieth Century Club, Ward and Straubenmuller met with James P. Munroe and others who were particularly interested in the movement, to answer questions and provide estimates of the cost of the work. The next afternoon Ward described “the attitude of the teachers in Rochester toward his work” at a tea for the masters of Boston schools given by the Women's Municipal League.29 The various events received substantial coverage in the Boston newspapers, presumably because Follett and her colleagues knew the importance of creating a public opinion favorable to extended use and enjoyed access to the local press.30

After this highly publicized visit the Home and School Association's Extended Use Committee began work in earnest. The members included Mary Follett, Fannie Fern Andrews, a state legislator who was a former School Committee member, a settlement house director who was a former newspaper reporter, a prominent merchant, a leader in the suffrage movement, the executive officer of the Civic League, and a college dean.31

From the beginning, the Home and School Association's committee had a two-part agenda. It would enhance the development of the WML's “object lesson” by assisting Follett's committee in working out answers to certain questions: “Where it would be best to open a Social Centre; What form of Neighborhood Centre would be most useful to the community; Who would be a good director; How shall the money be raised; and the many other questions which must be decided before the work can actually begin.” The other item on the agenda was development of a citywide plan for the further use of school buildings by existing neighborhood groups. Here the committee's motive was unabashedly political. If the committee could help local parents' associations, United Improvement Associations, and other societies to gain access to the schools for lectures and meetings, it would broaden the base of support for the extended-use (p.188) concept and thereby improve the chances of obtaining public funds when it was ready to expand the program into other city neighborhoods.32

But there could hardly have been a more difficult year than 1909 for Mary Follett and her colleagues to capture the attention of Bostonians. Historians point to this year as a turning point in Boston civic life: the uneasy sharing of power between the Irish and the Yankees collapsed into political warfare. In January, apparently in the hope that a strong mayoral system would foster municipal reform where their public investigations had failed, the Yankee-dominated Finance Commission asked the state legislature to enact a new charter for the city of Boston. The charter proposed “to centralize the government and to take local influence and partisan politics out of the government of the city.” There would be a strong mayor, elected for a four-year term and with “near-absolute power over the budget and over appointments.” The mayor would be checked only by a small, at-large council and a permanent Finance Commission.33

There was enormous divisive potential in the Finance Commission's proposal, but few seemed to recognize it. One who did was brahmin James J. Storrow, who knew that it would be folly for a Yankee-dominated Republican legislature to try to impose charter reform on a largely Democratic and Irish city. In March, Storrow led “several hundred fellow Chamber of Commerce members to the State House,” where in dramatic fashion “he addressed the [legislative] committee and an overflow crowd.”34 Although the legislature would not grant Storrow's plea for a binding referendum on the charter, it did agree to a compromise. Provisions relating to fiscal matters were to be enacted without referendum, but voters were given a choice on political issues: “they would choose between the reformers' proposal for non-partisan elections, strong mayor, and small, at-large council or another which allowed for partisan elections and ward councillors (albeit in a single chamber) and a less powerful mayor.” After almost a year of hearings and other public discussions, the new charter was narrowly accepted by the voters in the November referendum.35

With the new charter in place, public attention turned immediately to the January elections for mayor and City Council. John F. Fitzgerald, the incumbent Irish mayor, was opposed by James J. Storrow, who was favored by the Yankee establishment. During the campaign Storrow inexplicably abandoned “his earlier consensual approach that had minimized attacks on (Irish) politicians and emphasized the public good.” His partisan attacks on Irish politicians created such a backlash among Irish voters that they threw their support to Fitzgerald as a matter of ethnic pride. Caught up in the drama of the city's (p.189) most exciting political contest in decades, more than 90 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. Although “reform” candidates captured seven of the nine seats on the new City Council, Storrow lost to Fitzgerald by a margin of about 1,500 votes.36

Fitzgerald's victory over Storrow, following the adoption of the revised city charter, was a watershed event in Boston politics. Unless a new means of integrating interests could be found, Boston politics would be rife with acrimonious ethnic disputes. Political cynicism was already evident in many quarters of the city, and Boston's Yankees, in particular, were finding public life an emotional roller coaster that few wished to ride.37

It was in this climate of political cynicism and ethnic mistrust that Mary Follett pressed her campaign for extended use of the schools. She felt little of the resentment and despair that recent events had precipitated in Boston's “best men,” in part because she was excluded from electoral politics, but more importantly because she had a quite different vision of democratic political life. Mary Follett was committed not to electing “good men” to govern in place of their fellows but to helping men and women learn to govern themselves. In working out this vision, however, Follett repeatedly confronted a troublesome dilemma. If democracy were to be “grown” in Boston's neighborhoods, then members of the intellectual and professional elite, such as herself, would have to use their expertise to organize appropriate opportunities, create a favorable public opinion, acquire funding, and provide suitable training. Yet all this had to be done without usurping the local control that Follett wished to foster.

Over the next few years, this problem reappeared in numerous guises: Should extended-use centers be established by outsiders or opened only in response to neighborhood initiative? Should centers be self-supporting or receive public funds? Should school departments set restrictions on center operations or leave matters of internal governance entirely to local residents? Should managers and club leaders adopt directive roles or act primarily as facilitators? In her 1918 book, The New State, Follett would wrestle with this puzzle in a larger context, by struggling to define the appropriate role for the “expert” in a democratic society. Her experience in the social centers movement had demonstrated that “community associations must use expert advice and expert service,” but Follett readily admitted that “exactly how this relation will be most satisfactorily worked out we do not yet clearly see.” Six years later, in Creative Experience, she would return to the problem, and this time she would delineate in considerable detail the dangers of her generation's all-too-ready reliance on experts.38

In February 1910, however, Mary Follett was herself the expert. Seeing that (p.190) the schools' most pressing financial concerns had been alleviated by a recent legislative tax increase, she began a series of meetings with the Boston School Committee in which she reopened the subject of extended use of the schools.39 All five committee members were professional men (three lawyers, a surgeon, and a banker) committed to bringing efficiency to school operations. But the group was sufficiently diverse in ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, and educational background that Follett thought it wise, first, to confer with each member individually, reportedly “in the endeavor to pass on to them [her] Vision” about the social and civic values of extended use. Only after these individual conferences did she appear formally before the whole body to request their support. School Committee members probably found these one-on-one talks lively and engaging, since a conversation with Mary Follett, one colleague from this era later remarked, provided the kind of stimulation that “none of us who had the privilege of working with her can forget.” Follett also could be very convincing. “She was very definite about certain things,” this associate continued, “but it was fun to disagree with her and then watch her sharpen her argument against your objections. She would keep discovering more and more points in support of her position.”40 In this particular case, Follett's individual discussions apparently had the desired effect; in the March WML Bulletin, she reported that “the School Board has formally approved our plan and promised the use of one of its buildings, including heating and lighting, free.”41

Curiously, there is no record of this “promise” in the School Committee Proceedings—only the vote establishing a twelve-member Advisory Committee on the Further Use of School Buildings.42 The “off the record” quality of the School Committee's endorsement might have given Follett and her colleagues occasion for alarm had they interpreted it as a sign of lukewarm support, but an alternative explanation was more likely: the Committee—having just requested and received a tax rate increase to ease its financial problems—simply was unwilling to publicize its support for new initiatives. This decision did not disturb Mary Follett; she, too, was inclined to be cautious. “The partial failure of the experiment in two cities,” Follett explained in the WML Bulletin, “has made us sure that our success depends on going very slowly, on making our plans most carefully, and on waiting until everything is ripe for beginning in just the way we think most wise.”43

While Follett was busy conferring with the School Committee, action was warming up on another front. On February 9 Mayor Fitzgerald and the new city councilors visited East Boston for the first in a series of district gatherings fashioned after the New England town meeting. More than four hundred men and a few women attended and heard a series of speakers press vigorously for relief of certain neighborhood problems. Twice, speakers called for opening (p.191) the school buildings for public purposes: one asked that the general public be allowed to use the cleansing baths in the high school; another asked that children be permitted to use classrooms as a place for quiet evening study. The meeting received front-page coverage in the city's newspapers, and at least one of them quoted the mayor as saying that public use of the baths was “reasonable” and he had “made a note of it.”44

Fitzgerald's apparent openness to the idea of using school facilities for other than traditional school purposes probably was not a total surprise to Mary Follett. During the mayoral campaign, Fitzgerald had publicly pledged to “promote so far as the mayor has any power of influence to secure their adoption, and within the limits of financial practicability … the fullest and freest use, under proper restrictions, of our public school buildings and halls for social and neighborhood gatherings.”45 When the new mayor's remarks in East Boston suggested that he would live up to his campaign pledge, the advocates of extended use saw a splendid opportunity. The Executive Committee of the Home and School Association requested an allocation in the mayor's budget for the “furtherance and extension of this movement.”46

During the winter of 1909–10, Follett felt remarkably well—better than at any time during the previous six years—and as a result was able to do more work. She and Isobel, moreover, were comfortably settled in a new home at Five Otis Place, a four-room, upper-floor apartment at the foot of Beacon Hill to which they had moved when Shaw sold the Marlborough Street residence in 1908. Their new neighborhood, affectionately recreated in Samuel Eliot Morison's One Boy's Boston, was home to several of Follett's colleagues and friends—Louis and Alice Brandeis lived across the courtyard at Six Otis Place and Elizabeth Glendower Evans at number Twelve.47

The bedrooms were tiny, but the other rooms in Mary and Isobel's apartment were quite spacious. The dining-room featured a “handsome” dining table and chairs and an open fireplace—the high mantel of which was dotted with Japanese and Chinese curios. In the living room, a few fine red mahogany pieces provided a pleasing contrast to the velvet and horsehair upholstery of the overstuffed couch and easy chairs. The curtains were kept partially drawn, but Mary and Isobel could still catch a glimpse of the Charles River from the large living room windows. The walls, covered in dark paper, were “hung close with paintings and photographs”—some of them reproductions of paintings by Jean François Millet owned by the Shaws. Other works of art also figured prominently in the decor, including a Perugini Madonna at one end of the living room and copies of Donatello's relief of St. John and Michelangelo's head of the slave, both of which Mary kept with her throughout her life.

This Victorian décor, dark and even oppressive by modern standards, was (p.192) enlivened only by the bright living room rug and the green masses of Isobel's ivy plants, but Elizabeth Balch found the Otis Place living room one of the “most delightful” that she knew. “It was a room that you could settle down with and live in and there [Mary] and Miss Briggs worked and played and laughed and discussed and stimulated and criticised one another.” They delighted in music, especially the Saturday evening symphony concerts, and took great pleasure in travel and art. Their greatest joy, however, was “the merry, often witty, always stimulating talk … sparkling, challenging, analytical, descriptive, it never flagged.” The easy intimacy and candor between Follett and Briggs sometimes unnerved Balch: “There was nothing they did not discuss with amazing frankness, nothing they could not say to one another. They deliberately intended to stimulate or restrain one another in order to help self-discipline and to add to one another's stature and powers.” She continued: “Often they slashed one another, sometimes they used battle axes rather than rapiers and gave and took hard blows and one was quite used to being called a silly ass or an awful liar … Sometimes Mary was almost too frank. Often when I came she would simply tell Isobel to go away and sit in her room as she wanted to talk to me alone and often demurring, but amused, Isobel would go to her tiny room, asking now and then if she might come back.”

Isobel Briggs did “endless errands” for Follett, including “spending hours at the Athenaeum selecting books and carrying home armsful of ‘light’ as well as heavy reading, as Mary must have for every week-end three or four novels or detective stories.” These errands, apparently willingly undertaken, no doubt gave meaning to Isobel's life during her postretirement years and provided her a means of expressing her devotion to Mary. Cooking and household duties took little of either woman's time; they shared a set of servants with Inez Gaugengigl, a well-known portrait painter who was also their landlord. Mary engaged and trained the servants, but Isobel set the standards of the household. She was said to be “horrified” whenever Mary, rather than a servant, went to the door; at their small dinner parties, the table was “beautifully appointed” and the service “rather formal.” “No one who did not share it,” Balch later wrote, “will know what Isobel's contribution was, her charm, her social gift, her sparkling flexible talk, her light hand, her entire subordination of herself to Mary's interests and work”48

Despite Briggs's continuous devotion to her welfare, Follett soon suffered another recurrence of her mysterious illness. Only a few weeks after her February 1910 meetings with the School Committee, Mary suddenly “went to pieces.” Her symptoms were so trying that even a summertime retreat to Overhills failed to bring relief. The pain and swelling in Follett's right side persisted, as did her “bowel attacks.” Once in July and again in September, (p.193) their severity caused her to fall to the floor “in agony of pain.” The “frightful constant” pressure in her head now was accompanied by intense, darting pains—a combination that sometimes drove her to doubt whether she could “get through” the day. Surely most alarming of all were Mary's sudden lapses of memory—episodes that first occurred during April and May; on one such occasion, it took her a full minute to recognize North Station, a major Boston landmark.49

These devastating symptoms almost certainly forced Follett to withdraw from an opportunity that had come her way in the autumn of 1909, when she was asked by the National Municipal League to be on a national committee to prepare a “Guide to the Teaching of Civics.” Follett surely was disappointed, not so much because of the project itself (civic education was no longer the central focus of her work) but because this invitation symbolized for her how quickly one activity could lead to another. “One of the most hopeful signs we have in all work of this kind,” Follett told her WML colleagues, “is the rapidity with which it multiplies itself, that by doing one thing you not only accomplish that thing, but prepare the way for many other useful activities.”50

The weeks of continuing physical anguish made it virtually impossible for Follett to relax, and her suffering was compounded by what she described as a “summer full of complications” at work.51 Boston's private donors were confused by the multiplicity of organizations campaigning for extended use and were increasingly uncertain about where best to direct their financial support.52 Moreover, Follett's WML committee was having extraordinary difficulty finding the right director for its experimental project. The position had already been offered twice, both times to “excellent men,” but in each case the candidate had been induced to remain in his existing position.53

In early October 1909, Follett left Overhills and returned to Boston. Trying to resume her work, she struggled to keep her many engagements, but her symptoms finally forced her to bed.54 She fought back by consulting colleagues on the telephone, but even a simple phone call could become a frightening experience if a “blank”—one of her unnerving lapses of memory—suddenly descended on her. As the weeks wore on, Mary's problems were exacerbated by difficulties in sleeping. Persistent pains in her head and right side deprived her of badly needed rest, as did twitching leg muscles and a general aching in all her limbs, probably caused by dietary changes resulting in low potassium or calcium. Follett, who by now was quite desperate for relief, made an appointment to see Richard C. Cabot, the physician husband of her friend and colleague Ella Cabot.55

Within a few years Richard Cabot would be recognized as the preeminent cardiologist of his generation and would become chief of the medical staff at (p.194) Massachusetts General Hospital. But he also was recognized as a maverick and professional gadfly. In 1905, convinced that the Out-Patient Department at MGH was often ineffective because it had no way to see that prescribed treatments were actually carried out, Cabot organized the country's first Medical Social Service and utilized a small group of social workers for this purpose. Another of Cabot's campaigns aimed at improving the accuracy of medical diagnoses. In a paper read at the national meeting of the American Medical Association, Cabot reported patterns of “mistaken diagnoses” in 1,000 autopsies conducted at MGH. Such public revelations of the profession's “mistakes” were not much appreciated by his fellow physicians.56

Another form of Cabot's unrelenting criticism of the medical profession appeared in his analysis of “One Hundred Christian Science Cures” for Mc-Clure's Magazine in 1908. American medicine, Cabot told his readers, had much to learn from the Christian Scientists, who had long had success in treating functional illnesses. “Heretofore,” Cabot wrote, the Christian Scientists “have held the field of psychotherapy largely without competition. American physicians have confined themselves mostly to physical and chemical methods (diet, drugs, and surgery), which have a place in the cure of functional disease, but not, I think, the chief place.” Cabot was pleased that resistance was breaking down among his colleagues to treatments formerly the province of the mind curists—suggestion, work cure, encouragement. There can be little doubt that Cabot's openness to the validity of mind-cure techniques made it much easier for Mary Follett to reveal, midway through her first examination, that she “had been for years a New Thought person.”57 Follett would also have appreciated Cabot's willingness to give “a straight answer to a straight question.” After dealing with this baffling illness for six frustrating years, she surely would have been full of questions about what the future held. Since Cabot's experience had taught him the value of being truthful with patients about their conditions, he almost certainly would have shared with Follett whatever he had learned about her case.58

Follett's medical history, recorded by Cabot during her first visit in October 1910, is unusually detailed for the period and supplies much of what is known about her early symptoms.59 Cabot relied on manual palpation of Follett's organs for his diagnosis; he was enormously skilled in this method, and his book on physical diagnosis, “used the world over as a textbook,” appeared in twelve editions from 1901 to 1938.60 As a result of his examination, Cabot concluded that Follett's pelvis was “o.k.,” but he found a “smooth rounded non-tender mass” in the region of her gall bladder that was “not replaceable under [her] ribs.” During a second examination five weeks later, Cabot easily located this same mass, which he now called a “tumor,” extending below the (p.195) right rib cage.61 The tumor's free respiratory mobility seemed to preclude an advanced-stage malignancy, because a mass of this type would have become fixed as it invaded surrounding tissues. Instead, it was likely that one of the three organs in the area—the kidney, gall bladder, or liver—was enlarged.

The “smooth, rounded” nature of the mass was more characteristic of the kidney or gall bladder than the liver, an organ having more of an “edge.” Still, one explanation of Follett's symptoms considered by Cabot was “Riedel's lobe,” a nonpathological but anatomically anomalous tongue of tissue protruding from the lower edge of the right lobe of the liver. The second organ in this region, the kidney, was not included in Cabot's list of possible causes of Follett's symptoms, but gall bladder dysfunction was.62 Retention of bile due to the presence of a stone in the duct at the neck of the gall bladder would have enlarged the organ, making it palpable in the general area of Follett's “tumor.” The fever, gastric distress, and acute abdominal pain under the right ribs that Follett had been experiencing could have developed as a result of repeated biliary obstructions.63

Cabot's third possible explanation of Follett's symptoms was “psychoneurosis”—a term used in the late nineteenth century to refer “to people who exhibited some psychological disorder but who were not grossly psychotic, that is, out of touch with reality.”64 In the first decades of the twentieth century, the colon seemed to be the “body's major battleground for psychic conflict,” Edward Shorter writes in Bedside Manners. In this era “struggles waged in the unconscious would find expression more surely in abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea than in any other physical manner.” Generalized symptoms such as these were terribly difficult to treat and were thus a source of enormous frustration to physicians. Cabot probably found the “awful trio” of functional disturbances ascribed to nervous patients—“dyspepsia, constipation, and insomnia”—a reasonable approximation of Mary Follett's symptoms, because in addition to her other complaints, she was feeling “very sleepy all the time” and finding it “hard to quit her working life at night.”65

Cabot discussed the problems of treating the generic “nervous patient” in a 1906 lecture to the Colorado Medical Society. All too often, Cabot told his colleagues, advice to “nervous” patients ran to “negatives, to prohibitions, and exclusions.” The patient was told to “do less; don't work; don't worry; live like a vegetable; empty your mind of its troubles; be calm and quiet.” Cabot found these “rest cures,” made popular by S. Weir Mitchell and others, exactly the opposite of what most patients needed. Cabot's continuing interest in this subject is reflected in his 1908 book, Psychotherapy and Its Relation to Religion. There he wrote that “one half of all the nervous people who come to me are suffering for the want of an outlet, suffering for the lack of some way in (p.196) which they can put forth their whole power.” Rather than urging rest for such a patient, Cabot sought instead to “‘speed her up,’ teach the patient to live harder, faster, more intensely, or with some better reason for his activities.” Cabot's use of the female as well as the male pronoun to refer to these patients was no accident; his experience had shown that more than half of the ordinary physician's practice consisted of women's nervous disorders.66

The “work cure” that Cabot thought might help these women involved neither “drudgery” nor merely keeping busy. In his view, only a genuine vocation had the power to give a woman confidence that she “amounts to something” and a sense that she was “accumulating week by week and month by month something worth while.” Cabot, furthermore, was not one who wished to relegate women to unpaid service. Perhaps the experience of having been born to great wealth had taught him about the significance of being paid for one's labors. “After all,” Cabot wrote in Psychotherapy and Its Relation to Religion, “is there anything in the world that encourages us more than that,—to know that we are really worth while and that some one cares enough to pay something in cold cash because we are on the earth? I do not care how spiritual a person is, I believe he is affected by that consideration, and ought to be affected by it. We have no other equally sure and effective way of finding out that we are needed, and there is no other such stimulant as the thought that somebody else needs us.”67

Though appreciative of the new European psychotherapies, especially Paul DuBois's Psychic Treatment of Nervous Disorders (1905), Cabot based his treatment plan for Follett on his own “work cure.”68 But working would require that Follett rise above the pain, the uncertainty, and the periodic despair engendered by her illness.69 Pain “must be dealt with largely by physical methods and by the physician,” Richard Cabot wrote in 1908, “but what the man thinks of it, that goes down deep into his character, involves the whole mental life, his whole point of view, his religion … Many a nervous sufferer quavers out in one phrase or another the old lament: ‘Why does this trouble come to me?’ Now, this means:—‘Why do all the forces in the universe conspire to shoot down upon my defenceless head this arrow of misery?’ I think it does good to remind such a sufferer that the universe is too busy with other things to bother with any such conspiracy. The world is not a conspiracy against him; it is a conspiracy for him, and he will get and give his best only when he works with the spirit of this world, with the spirit of God.”70

As Cabot saw it, a nervous patient's successful recovery depended largely on that individual's spiritual values and moral character. Mary Follett would have shared this conviction. All her life she had felt driven to do better, to achieve, to prove herself worthy. If a physician whom she trusted told her that (p.197) her recovery depended on her capacity to suffer nobly and on her determination to be well—in other words, on her moral fiber—she surely would have accepted that challenge. The trials of Mary's childhood, ironically, had prepared her well for this ordeal, and in addition she could count on Isobel's love and care; but still, the mysterious nature of her illness made it a dreadful, lonely burden to bear.

Follett received little or no comfort from her original family—indeed, she most likely kept any news of her illness from them. She visited her mother and brother in Quincy only two or three times a year and avoided all holiday occasions. At this stage of her life, only her young nephew, George Jr., seemed to spark her affection. She presented him at age six or seven with a five-volume set of Kipling bound in red leather and a picture of his namesake, St. George, slaying the dragon. And she delighted him, a few years later, when she asked him to join her in games of cards and cribbage—amusements that other family members thought “terrible.” Despite these acts of kindness, Mary remained a rather awesome figure, not the sort a young boy would choose as a confidante, and George Jr. was acutely aware of the lack of real fondness between his aunt and her mother and brother. “It was a duty call when she came out,” he later recalled, “it was as if she was someone else's family.”71

In early November 1910, three weeks after she first consulted Richard Cabot, Follett's health had improved enough that she was able to leave her bed and resume a fairly normal public life. She surfaced first at the School Committee, where she met with the secretary about the practice of charging neighborhood organizations for the use of school property. Concerned that the cost was more than many organizations could afford, Follett hoped that the fees could be rescinded; but after learning that the committee had instituted fees as a way to avoid subsidizing organizations that could afford to pay rent elsewhere, Follett revised her position. Adopting what she would later term an integrative conflict resolution strategy, Follett crafted a carefully worded proposal in which “all would be benefitted.”72 A fee would be charged in every case of extended use, but it would not exceed the low rate set for evening school use in those cases “when a school house is used regularly throughout the winter for a certain number of evenings a week, and by people who have the same ends in view as the School Board, that is, the training of young people to fit their social, industrial and civic environment.” “We make this request,” Follett told the board, “feeling that the School Board can legitimately discriminate between a miscellaneous or sporadic use of school buildings desired chiefly probably to save rent, and a use which might be considered as part of the school system, or rather of an extended school system.” She and her (p.198) colleagues, Follett assured the board, sought uses that would serve educational ends. The details took several months to work out, but the schedule of charges was eventually revised along the lines that Follett had suggested.73

Follett's return to work surely buoyed her spirits, but she felt even better when her WML committee finally hired a suitable director for their “object lesson.” Ralph E. Hawley, principal of a Michigan grammar school and a graduate of the University of Michigan, had spent the previous summer in Boston, working as a boys' club leader for the Charlestown Episcopal City Mission. “The reputation of these boys for rough conduct and language,” Ella Cabot reported, “was such that they were not allowed in any private building. Mr. Hawley organized them into a club on the very curbstone, found a free lot where a house had burned down, started gardening and hammock making, and won the loyalty of every boy.” Hawley could not come to Boston immediately because he was obliged to finish the Michigan school year. Nevertheless, he agreed to a three-week visit in February in order to “study the situation in New York, learn to know Boston conditions and possibilities intimately, choose the best available school district and study methods of vocational counselling.”74

The decision to investigate methods of vocational counseling was undoubtedly Mary Follett's, for she had recently concluded that “the best use of the school buildings during the evening hours is for vocational advice.” As a step toward this end, Mary had secured a place both on the Executive Board of the new Vocation Bureau and on its Administrative Committee, a group that met “once a week to work out the practical plans for vocational direction.”75 The Vocation Bureau was yet another of the many worthwhile projects funded by Pauline Agassiz Shaw. Originally proposed in the fall of 1907 by Frank Parsons, an organizer of educational programs for wage-earning men and women at Shaw's Civic Service House, the Vocation Bureau was based on the idea that young men and women needed systematic guidance in the choice of a career as well as vocational instruction. The work had barely begun when Parsons died, creating a several-month hiatus, but the pace picked up dramatically when Stratton D. Brooks, superintendent of the Boston public schools, made an intriguing proposal. Brooks saw benefits to be gained from linking a scheme of vocational guidance with the school system's proliferating vocational education programs and asked the bureau's help in “organizing [vocational] counselling work in the Boston schools.” He was particularly hopeful that they might “assist in selecting those pupils who should enter highly specialized courses in industry and commerce in the secondary schools of Boston.”76 The bureau submitted a plan, accepted by the School Committee in June 1909, in which it “proposed the appointment of a committee of six masters and submasters (p.199) as a ‘vocational direction committee,’ the appointment of a number of counselors in the schools, and the training of these counselors by meetings to be held under the auspices of the Vocation Bureau.”77

Realizing that the effective administration of this plan would require an experienced director, the executive board persuaded Meyer Bloomfield, director of Civic Service House and one of Follett's colleagues in the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government, to accept the appointment.78 Within a few months Bloomfield was joined by another man with whom Follett was well acquainted, Frederick J. Allen, the secretary of the City History Club. Soon thereafter, probably at Follett's instigation, the board committed the Vocation Bureau to a set of goals that went beyond merely providing vocational advice. Follett, it seems, had had an opportunity to investigate other vocational programs on visits to Edinburgh and London and, as a result, had become convinced that vocational advice was best offered in combination with “placement” and “after-care.” Boston could have such a program, Follett argued, if schools, private employers, and city officials would pool and coordinate their efforts in a central bureau.79

Funding, as usual, promised to be the most serious problem. The School Committee had implemented the vocational counseling program by appointing 117 vocational counselors, one for each elementary and secondary school in Boston, but the appointments were not accompanied by appropriate financial support. The committee had provided only a pittance for printed materials, training, and conferences and refused either to release the counselors from other duties or to give them additional compensation. Despite this meager show of support, Follett was sufficiently impressed with the bureau's potential that in May 1910 she reportedly told a donor that she was “working with the Vocation Bureau to establish several social centres in as many school houses.”80

The notion that neighborhood social centers might profitably be married to a program of vocational counseling and placement was inspired by Follett's experiences in Ward 17. It was there that she had seen how ward bosses acquired and maintained political power by satisfying their constituents' needs for jobs.81 “Urban political machines,” writes Alexander Keyssar, author of a fascinating historical study of unemployment in Massachusetts, “emerged and flourished in a world where jobs were scarce and where the threat of layoffs was omnipresent. The strength of those machines was part of the price that respectable Massachusetts had to pay for ignoring the problem of unemployment.” Even after the depression of the 1890s made it clear that “honest, industrious workers were sometimes jobless through no fault of their own” and should not be blamed for unemployment, neither public officials nor (p.200) private agencies did much to help. As late as 1906, job-seekers who wished to avoid being beholden to ward politicians or being exploited by unscrupulous employment agents had only one place to turn: the state-run Free Employment Offices established by the Bureau of Statistics of Labor. Surveying this bleak landscape, Keyssar concludes that the perpetual unemployment of hundreds of thousands of workers remained “one of the best-kept secrets in Massachusetts.” Mary Follett, however, not only understood important dimensions of the unemployment problem, but also had a vision of how a citywide vocational guidance and placement system might be integrated with neighborhood social centers to liberate grassroots political life.82

The enthusiasm with which Follett approached the idea of affiliating with the Vocation Bureau was not shared by Fannie Fern Andrews, the head of the Home and School Association. Andrews had assumed that her local parents' associations would be the centerpiece of any scheme for neighborhood social centers and was not placated by Meyer Bloomfield's reassurances that “nothing definite was decided on.” Convinced that it was time to solidify the Home and School Association's place in the movement, Andrews pressed hard throughout the spring of 1910 for her Extended Use Committee to prepare a citywide plan for the use of school buildings.83

The plan, which was drafted by Andrews and De Bruyn and revised in committee, called for seven types of activities: parents' association meetings, vocational activities, junior civic clubs or city councils, classes for mothers in child care and homemaking, popular lectures, evenings with pictures, and music. As there was widespread disagreement about whether the School Committee had the authority to allow noneducational endeavors in the schools, the plan excluded all recreational activities in favor of those that were clearly educational. “Evenings with pictures,” for example, would present stereopticon exhibits of pictures from the Museum of Fine Arts rather than popular films. The number of activities included in this citywide plan was deliberately kept small out of a conviction that each neighborhood would have to meet its distinctive needs in its own way. Neighborhoods could best formulate these blueprints for extended use, Andrews argued, if they made use of the twenty-nine local parents' associations, groups of “citizens, already organized, whose main interest is the welfare of its own community, and whose efforts are already pointed in this direction.” But despite Andrews' clearly stated preferences, the Advisory Committee left considerable ambiguity about the association's role; parents' associations would provide a valuable “nucleus of organization” in the preparation of local plans, but the ideas generated there still would have to be integrated, in some unspecified way, with those of other individuals and groups.

(p.201) On purely administrative matters, the plan was exceptionally detailed. It indicated which of the five participating organizations—the Women's Municipal League, the Home and School Association, the Vocation Bureau, Boston-1915, or the City History Club—would be responsible for the initiation, supervision, and expense involved in each type of activity. Public funds were requested only for mothers' classes, which seemed “so apparently a part of the hygiene department of the school system” and therefore were in need of “official sanction.” Most of the remaining expenses would be assumed by the Home and School Association and paid through a combination of philanthropy and neighborhood fees. The decision to rely on at least some neighborhood funding was in keeping with the Follett's philosophy that social center work “should be carried on, as far as possible, by the people themselves”; but getting the plan off the ground would require a sizable infusion of private funds.84 Hoping to generate interest in the plan among donors, Andrews wrote an article in the July issue of New Boston claiming that the plan had been “accepted” by the School Committee. This was something of an overstatement of the official record, which reported that the committee “approves in general of the proposition” but declined, “owing to present financial limitations … to assume any liability for any expense involved in putting the plan into effect unless it shall have taken definite and favorable action in each specific item.”85

Mary Follett was nominally one of the people who proposed this funding plan to the School Committee, but her part in the process had surely been limited by poor health.86 In November 1910, after having been ill for much of the year, Follett finally felt well enough to respond to a request from Edith M. Howes for help in running a club for South Boston working girls founded by the Massachusetts Association of Women Workers. Follett's WML committee, which now included a settlement house director, eagerly accepted the challenge. Not only did it enable them “to help a little in the solution of some of the problems of that most difficult period of youth, the years from fifteen to twenty-one”; it also was “in line with what we hope to do ourselves more extensively next year.”87 After several months with the South Boston project, Follett told colleagues that “nothing could show us more clearly than this actual group of girls, the need of such work as we are planning in our Social Centre. These girls … have many needs and few opportunities. They need recreation and companionship, they need friends who will advise them in their lives. The strain of their days and the difficulties they encounter combine with the general lack of interest in their lives to make it really imperative that some definite provision should be made for their leisure time: for recreation, for instruction, and for fitting them to be useful members of the community.”88

(p.202) Despite the demonstrable value of clubs such as the one in South Boston, school committees throughout eastern Massachusetts were demonstrating reluctance to open their buildings until the state had resolved all doubts about whether local school committees had the authority to allow recreational uses of school facilities. To correct this problem, extended-use advocates prepared enabling legislation and had the petition filed by a resident of Cambridge, perhaps to discourage the perception that extended use was just “a Boston issue.” Large numbers of extended-use supporters appeared at the March 7 legislative hearing and argued vigorously that such work was already being conducted in other parts of the country with great success. The legislators apparently found this argument persuasive. Six weeks later, a bill was enacted that allowed the school committee of any city or town to “grant the temporary use of halls in school buildings upon such terms and conditions and for such public or educational purposes, for which no admission fee is charged as the said school committee may deem wise.” In a city such as Boston, the act would take effect upon its acceptance by a two-thirds vote of the City Council and the approval of the mayor. Mary Follett's name does not appear either in the public records concerning this legislation or in the brief news accounts of the hearing, but one of her contemporaries identified her as the person “responsible for the legislation … which made it permissible to open school buildings for the leisure time use of adults.”89

Even while this legislation was still in committee, the Advisory Committee on the Further Use of School Buildings was busy on another front—assessing “the advisability of asking a municipal appropriation for this purpose.”90 As a part of this effort, numerous organizations were contacted, and many responded with support, including the new Boston Chamber of Commerce, the neighborhood-based United Improvement Associations, the Central Labor Union, and the Boston Social Union, a recently organized federation of settlements.91 But the four organizations “working at this problem in the closest alliance” were the Women's Municipal League, the Home and School Association, the Vocation Bureau, and one other—Boston-1915.92

The Boston-1915 movement, a colossal scheme of civic cooperation, was launched by Edward A. Filene squarely in the midst of the public debate over the proposed new Boston charter. What made Boston-1915 different from other “megaorganizations” was its scale and its objectives. The founders proposed in six years to transform their city into an urban paradise of the kind no one had dared to dream since the “White City” of Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition—and would do so by coordinating the work of all social, religious, educational, economic, and political entities in the city.93 In reality, Boston-1915 accomplished no more than a minute fraction of what it had set out to do and went out of business in less than two years, in December 1911,94

(p.203) Fortunately, in 1910 when Mary Follett was looking for extended use allies, Boston-1915 was at the high point of its influence. In addition to being personally acquainted with some of the leaders of Boston-1915 (Brandeis, Storrow, Cabot, Munroe, and Robert A. Woods), Follett found herself connected to this movement in another way.95 Of the sixteen planks in Boston-11915's original program, several in some way supported the concept of an extended use of the public schools.96 From the spring of 1910 to the fall of 1911, Follett built a sufficiently close affiliation with the Boston-1915 movement that she was able to make effective use of the directors' access to public officials and other interested civic groups. But she did this without harboring any illusions about Boston's having magically entered a new era of cooperation. A pragmatist with ideals, Follett would later write in The New State that “it is a mistake to think that such abstractions as unity, brotherhood etc. are as self-evident to our wills as to our intellect.”

I learn my duty to my friends not by reading essays on friendship, but by living my life with my friends and learning by experience the obligations friendship demands. Just so must I learn my relation to society by coming into contact with a wide range of experiences, of people, by cultivating and deepening my sympathy and whole understanding of life … We talk of fellowship; we puny separatists bristling with a thousand unharmonized traits, with our assertive particularist consciousness, think that all we have to do is to decide on fellowship as a delightful idea. But fellowship will be the slowest thing on earth to create. An eager longing for it may help, but it can come into being as a genuine part of our life only through a deep understanding of what it really means.97

The momentum that was building around the cause of extended use received yet another boost on March 6, 1911, when the directors of Boston-1915 announced their program for the coming year. The eleven program objectives, heralded on the front page of almost every Boston newspaper, included one of special concern to extended-use advocates, namely, Boston-1915's commitment to “organizing a larger use of school houses.”98 Taking advantage of the favorable publicity, James P. Munroe, who had recently been named Boston-1915's executive director, wrote to Mayor Fitzgerald and solicited his support for a municipal appropriation for extended use. As of this moment, the campaign to establish social centers in Boston's neighborhood schools was fully under way.99


(1.) Boston Globe, Jan. 16, 1909.

(2.) For Follett on coordination, see Dynamic Administration, ed. Metcalf and Urwick, 262–70.

(3.) An Account of the Women's Municipal League of Boston, 1–4. This approach was quite different from that of the Good Government Association, a group of largely Republican men who sought to expose and eliminate corruption among the city's immigrant politicians. See Burns, “The Irony of Progressive Reform,” 147.

(4.) Boston Globe, Jan. 16, 1909; Worrell, The Women's Municipal League of Boston, 189.

(5.) Account of Women's Municipal League, 2, 6–7; Worrell, Women's Municipal League of Boston, 188.

(6.) Here, too, the experience of the Good Government Association was probably instructive. The association, by failing to produce either widespread support for reform or a popular political leader, was becoming “increasingly irrelevant to the politics of the city.” (p.530) See Burns, “The Irony of Progressive Reform,” 146–47; Goodwin, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, 107–09.

(7.) Account of Women's Municipal League, 7–8.

(8.) Ibid., 4–5.

(9.) Kaufman, “Boston Women and School City Politics,” 70–72, 99–100, 129–33, 238–39.

(10.) Ibid., 93, 248–49;K. Gerald Marsden, “Philanthropy and the Boston Playground Movement, 1885–1907,” Social Science Review 35 (March 1961): 49–56; Boston School Document (BSD) No. 15, 1900, 3–6; BSD No. 13, 1900, 3; Massachusetts Civic League, Annual Report, 1900, 13; 1901, 33; 1902, 54–55.

(11.) “Résumé of ELC,” box 1, folder 1, Ella Lyman Cabot Papers, SL; ELC, Massachusetts Civic League, Annual Report, 1902, 54.

(12.) “Candidates of the Public School Association, 1904”; “Résumé of ELC”; McCormick, “Ella Lyman Cabot,” 156; ELC, “Journal/Diary for 1892–93,” Nov. 21, 1893, Ella Lyman Cabot Papers.

(13.) Paper, Brandeis, 84, 209. Paper asserts that Alice Brandeis “could not keep up with it all,” but she was active in social and civic work. By 1915 Brandeis was a BESAGG vicepresident; see box 15, folder 226, FFPAP.

(14.) Account of Women's Municipal League, 36.

(15.) National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 29: 103; Cornelius Dalton, John Wirkkala, and Anne Thomas, Leading the Way: A History of the Massachusetts General Court, 1629–1980 (Boston: Office of the Secretary of State, 1984), 421; Strum, Louis D. Brandeis, 67.

(16.) Account of Women's Municipal League, 8; Worrell, Women's Municipal League of Boston, 188. The following year Pauline Agassiz Shaw was named the league's honorary vice-president.

(17.) Katherine Bowlker, “Mrs. Quincy A. Shaw,” Bulletin: The Women's Municipal League, Jan. 1917, 8. During 1911–13 Shaw gave $2,000 to the committee's work. For other major donors, see Bulletin: The Women's Municipal League of Boston, March–April 1912, 40, 56; May 1913, 56.

(18.) MPF, “Report on Schoolhouses as Social Centres,” 14–15.

(19.) Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 15, 1909.

(20.) MPF, “Report on Schoolhouses,” 15; MPF, “Report of the Department of Civic Training, 1909,” 28–29; MPF to ECL, Sunday, 3 p.m. [probably early 1923], ECLP.

(21.) ELC, “Report of the Department of Education,” in Account of Women's Municipal League, 12–13; Tyack, The One Best System, 133.

(22.) National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 16: 269–70; Fannie Fern Andrews to Robert Treat Paine Jr., Jan. 1, 1908 [1909], box 161, FFPAP. Munroe had worked in 1897 to create administrative reform in the Boston public schools.

(23.) Fannie Fern Andrews to Robert Treat Paine Jr., Jan. 1, 1908 [1909], box 161, FFPAP.

(24.) Kuehl, “Andrews, Fannie Fern,” in James, Notable American Women, 1: 46; Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 26, 1910; Lazerson, Origins of the Urban School, 228; Boston Home and School Association, Report for December 1907–June 1909, 14, box 161, FFPAP.

(25.) Excerpts of Pauline Agassiz Shaw to Fannie Fern Andrews, March 19 and April 15, 1908, enclosed in Secretary to Mrs. Andrews to Edward P. Shute, June 14, 1918, box 161, FFPAP.

(26.) Lazerson, Origins of the Urban School, 228; BSC, Proceedings, Feb. 11, 1902, 67.

(27.) Fannie Fern Andrews to Robert Treat Paine Jr., Jan. 1, 1908 [1909], box 161, FFPAP; Boston Home and School Association, Report for December 1907–June 1909, 19, box 161, FFPAP; Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 16, 1909.

(28.) Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 17, 1909.

(29.) ELC, “Report of the Department of Education,” in Account of Women's Municipal League, 12–13; Boston Herald, Feb. 18, 1909. The ten cosponsors were the Women's Municipal League of Boston, the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, the Women's Education Association, the BESAGG, the New England Women's Club, the Massachusetts Civic League, the Home and School Association, the Women's Trade Union League, the Consumers' League, and the Massachusetts Association of Women Workers.

(30.) For New York school reformers' use of media, see Tyack, The One Best System, 132–33.

(31.) Fannie Fern Andrews to Robert T. Paine Jr., Jan. 21, 1909, box 161, FFPAP; Boston Home and School Association, Report for December 1907–June 1909, 7, box 161, FFPAP. For biographical descriptions of the members, see Who Was Who, 2: 17, 31 and 3: 230; Dalton, Wirkkala, and Thomas, Leading the Way, 422; “Class of 1885, Report VII, 1910,” 58, Harvard University Archives; Massachusetts Civic League, Annual Report for … 1911, 2; BESAGG, Fifth Report, October 1908–October 1910 (Boston: Libbie, 1910); National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 32: 411–12; Woods and Kennedy, Handbook of Settlements, 117–20; Boston Social Union, “Minutes for Nov. 16 [1909],” box 4, USESP.

(32.) MPF, “Report of the Department of Civic Training, 1909,” 29; Fannie Fern Andrews to Robert T. Paine Jr., March 9, 1909; Boston Home and School Association, Report for December 1907–June 1909, 18, both box 161, FFPAP.

(33.) Burns, “The Irony of Progressive Reform,” 151.

(34.) Ibid., 152; Boston Herald, March 11, 1909.

(35.) Burns, “The Irony of Progressive Reform,” 152.

(36.) Goodwin, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, 190–96; Burns, “The Irony of Progressive Reform,” 133, 152–58.

(37.) Ibid., 158–59.

(38.) Follett discusses the role of the expert in The New State, 175, 180, 234–40; Creative Experience, 2–30; Dynamic Administration, 212–34.

(39.) All five members had Public School Association and Republican party endorsements. Ellis, Brock, and Lee also had the Democratic endorsement. See Board of Election Commissioners, Annual Report (1906–1910); Who's Who in New England (1916), 161, 371, 660, 712, 948.

(40.) Eva Whiting White, “Mary Parker Follett: Tribute Read at the 25th Anniversary for the Boston School Centres, Oct. 16, 1937,” Eva Whiting White Papers, SL; notes of interview with Eva Whiting White, Oct. 18, 1967 (Author's Files—Fox).

(41.) MPF, “Further Uses for School Buildings,” 6–7. The Boston Common reported (p.532) that Follett had secured this agreement on Feb. 10, 1910, but there was no official meeting of the School Committee on that date; see Crawford, “Schools as Social Centers,” 4–5.

(42.) BSC, Proceedings, Feb. 21, 1910, 19.

(43.) Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court (Boston, 1909), chap. 120, 82; MPF, “Further Use for School Buildings,” 6–7.

(44.) Boston Globe, Feb. 9, 1910.

(45.) Boston Globe, Dec. 17, 1909.

(46.) Robert T. Paine Jr. to Mayor John F. Fitzgerald, March 4, 1910, box 161, FFPAP; also see Paine to John W. DeBruyn, March 7, 1910, ibid.

(47.) Boston city directories, 1908–1910; Records of the Boston City Assessor.

(48.) EB, Memoir of MPF, LFUA; interviews with George D. Follett Jr. (June 16, 1982, Quincy, Mass.) and Nancy Follett Alvord (May 13, 1982, Quincy, Mass.).

(49.) RCC, “Medical History and Record of Mary Parker Follett, 1910–1933,” RCCP. These symptoms might have been caused by low blood pressure, low potassium, fever, infection, migraine, or seizure.

(50.) MPF, “Report of the Department of Civic Training, 1909,” 28. Follett apparently withdrew, because her name is not included on either National Municipal League civic education committee; see Sheppard, “Municipal Civics in Elementary and High Schools”; Nov. 15–18, 1909, conference program in National Municipal League Proceedings, 11; “Civics in the Public Schools,” in National Municipal League Clipping Sheet, 6th ser., no. 3 (Oct. 30, 1911), box 201, Charles J. Bonaparte Papers.

(51.) RCC, “Medical History and Record of Follett.” Some complications also involved her family.

(52.) E. F. Mason to Fannie Fern Andrews, May 14, 1910; Andrews to Miss Mason, June 8, 1910, both box 15, folder 229, FFPAP.

(53.) ELC, “Annual Report of Department of Education,” 18.

(54.) Boston Social Union, “Report of the Athletic Committee with the Executive Committee,” Oct. 11 [1910], box 4, USESP.

(55.) RCC, “Medical History and Record of Follett.” Follett last visited Fitz in March 1909.

(56.) Thomas Franklin Williams, “Cabot, Peabody, and the Care of the Patient,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 24 (1950): 465–69; Chester R. Burns, “Richard Clarke Cabot (1868–1939) and Reformation in Medical Ethics,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 51 (1977): 358–59, 365–67; RCC, “A Study of Mistaken Diagnoses,” Journal of the American Medical Association, October 15, 1910, 1343.

(57.) RCC, “One Hundred Christian Science Cures,” McClure's Magazine, Aug. 1908, 476; RCC, “Medical History and Record of Follett.”

(58.) RCC, “The Use of Truth and Falsehood in Medicine,” 248–56.

(59.) RCC, “Medical History and Record of Follett.” Cabot noted that there was a slight murmur in the systolic and pulmonic arteries but that Follett's heart and lungs seemed normal. There is no blood pressure notation, even though physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital were measuring the blood pressure of every entering patient by 1912. The record does not mention X rays; this technology was in an early stage of development. Cabot found Follett's urine “o.k,” but he knew that organic problems often went (p.533) undetected; see RCC, “The Limitations of Urinary Diagnosis,” Johns Hopkins Hospital Bulletin 158 (May 1904): 174–77.

(60.) RCC, Physical Diagnosis, 109; Stanley J. Reiser, Medicine and the Reign of Technology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 106; McGrew, Encyclopedia of Medical History, 304–05; P. D. White, “Richard Clarke Cabot,” 1050.

(61.) RCC, “Medical History and Record of Follett.”

(62.) Ibid.; Walton, Beeson, and Scott, The Oxford Companion to Medicine, 2: 1276.

(63.) RCC, Physical Diagnosis, 378–86; Good Housekeeping Family Health and Medical Guide (New York: Hearst, 1980), 339–40.

(64.) Shorter, Bedside Manners, 144; RCC, “Medical History and Record of Follett.”

(65.) Ibid. For 1930s investigations of the relationship between colon distress and psychological symptoms, see Shorter, Bedside Manners, 147.

(66.) RCC, “Mind Cure: Its Service to the Community,” Colorado Medicine 5 (Jan. 1907): 5, 9–10.

(67.) RCC, Psychotherapy and Its Relation to Religion, 28, 43.

(68.) In a 1906 address Cabot spoke knowledgeably of the work of Pierre Janet, Paul DuBois, and Sigmund Freud. Cabot called psychotherapeutic methods “solid science” and added that “we have been verifying its results at the Massachusetts General Hospital”; “Mind Cure,” 8–10.

(69.) RCC, Psychotherapy, 20–23. DuBois's treatment plan required the physician to engage the patient in a kind of rational discussion or “moral therapy.” Cabot probably was amenable to this, but he probably discarded massages and “overfeeding.” See Shorter, Bedside Manners, 167.

(70.) RCC, Psychotherapy, 47–48.

(71.) Interview with George D. Follett Jr. Later Follett would demonstrate comparable interest in her young niece, Nancy, an aspiring musician. Through MPF, Nancy received a cello from Pauline Agassiz Shaw, played recitals at the Andrews sisters' home, and went to symphony concerts with the Cabots; interview with Nancy Follett Alvord.

(72.) Boston Social Union, “Minutes for Nov. 10, 1910,” box 4, USESP. Follett met with the School Committee secretary on Nov. 5 and five days later attended a meeting of the Boston Social Union; MPF to BSC, Nov. 7, 1910, Boston School Committee Papers, Rare Books Department, Boston Public Library (hereafter BSC Papers).

(73.) The process of resolving the dispute is discussed in BSC, Proceedings, Nov. 22, 1910, 185; Dec. 5, 1910, 195; Dec. 28, 1910, 209; Jan. 2, 1911, 213; Oct. 2, 1911, 128.

(74.) ELC, “Report of the Department of Education,” 23–25.

(75.) MPF, “Further Use for School Buildings,” 6–7.

(76.) Brooks originally asked Boston-1915 to assist boys and girls in selecting high schools. Edward Filene, whose brother was a major contributor to the Vocation Bureau, suggested that the bureau draw up a plan. See Brewer, A History of Vocational Guidance, 57–69.

(77.) Mary A. Gilson, who became a prominent figure in personnel administration, was one of the first vocational counselors appointed in the Trade School for Girls; ibid., 77.

(78.) Bloomfield did not directly succeed Parsons; ibid., 69.

(79.) Ginn, “Mary Parker Follett,” in Worrell, Women's Municipal League of Boston, 207–08; MPF, “The Placement Bureau,” 13–14.

(80.) E. F. Mason to Fannie Fern Andrews, May 14, 1910, box 15, folder 229, FFPAP.

(81.) Follett described her Roxbury League as being particularly interested in “the influence the politicians had on the boys of the neighbourhood … [and] in the manner in which the politicians could get positions for boys at any time in large corporations, such as the elevated Railway.” See South End Social Union, “Executive Committee Minutes for Jan. 3, 1906,” box 5, USESP.

(82.) Keyssar, Out of Work, 256–62.

(83.) Fannie Fern Andrews to Robert T. Paine Jr., April 23, 1910, box 161, FFPAP.

(84.) Andrews to Paine, April 23, May 5 and May 16, 1910, box 161, FFPAP; Andrews to Miss Mason, June 8, 1910, box 15, folder 229, FFPAP; Andrews, “The Further Use of School Buildings”; Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 26, 1910.

(85.) Andrews, “Further Use of School Buildings,” 116; BSC, Proceedings, June 20, 1910, 125.

(86.) For some information about how this citywide plan was prepared, see Fannie Fern Andrews to Robert T. Paine Jr., April 23, May 5 and May 16, 1910, box 161, FFPAP.

(87.) ELC, “Report of the Department of Education,” 23–25. The director was Lilian V. Robinson; see committees in Bulletin: The Women's Municipal League of Boston, June 1910.

(88.) MPF, “Report of the Committee on Extended Use,” 18–20.

(89.) The petition was filed by Warren F. Spaulding, secretary of the Massachusetts Prisons Association; see New Boston, Oct. 1911, 214; Boston Home and School News-Letter, March 1, 1911, 1; Christian Science Monitor, March 7, 1911; Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court (Boston, 1911), 355; Eva Whiting White, “Mary Parker Follett,” Eva Whiting White Papers.

(90.) Boston Home and School News-Letter, March 1, 1911, 1.

(91.) For the evolution of one organization's position on extended use, see United Improvement Association Bulletin, Nov. 1910, 4; March–April 1911, 5; June 1911, 7; Nov. 1911, 4, 12–13; Dec. 1911, 9. For references to the support of other organizations, see James P. Munroe to David A. Ellis, May 23, 1911, BSC Papers; New Boston, June 1911, 42.

(92.) ELC, “Annual Report of Department of Education,” 18.

(93.) “The Significance of Boston-1915,” New Boston, Nov. 1910, 299–300.

(94.) H. W. Poor, “Shows Gain Made by ‘Boston-1915’ Though Plan Dies,” Chicago Tribune, May 11, 1913; Edward A. Filene to Garrett Droppers, Feb. 13, 1912, Edward A. Filene Papers, Credit Union National Association, Madison, Wis.; “Report on Boston-1915,” 25–29, ibid. The causes of Boston-1915's demise included the massive size of the enterprise, inadequate funds and publicity, an uninterested business community, quarrels among religious leaders, and a failure to follow through on commitments.

(95.) Kellogg, “Boston's Level Best,” 387; Poor, “Shows Gain”; “Draft of First Annual Report of Boston, 1915,” 2, Filene Papers. Woods was the president of the Boston Social Union, a citywide settlement federation; Follett was elected vice-president in 1911. See “Minutes of the Boston Social Union for Nov. 14, 1911,” box 4, USESP.

(96.) Kellogg, “Boston's Level Best,” 396.

(97.) MPF, The New State, 192–93. Follett participated in the Boston-1915 Committee on Construction and Location of Schoolhouses. See “What Boston-1915 Is Doing,” New (p.535) Boston, June 1910, 57; C. Bertrand Thompson, “How Boston-1915 Works,” New Boston, Nov. 1910, 306; “Report on Boston-1915,” appended section on conference and committees, 7, Filene Papers.

(98.) Christian Science Monitor, March 6, 1911; see also Andrews, “Schoolhouses as Neighborhood Centers,” 490.

(99.) James P. Munroe to John F. Fitzgerald, March 25, 1911, BSC Papers.