Is Hull-House haunted by a devil baby?
Starting in the summer of 1913, Jane Addams and the residents of the Hull-House settlement grappled with an onslaught of visitors who came seeking the “Devil Baby”-- an imagined infant who was rumored to have been born out of a fatherly curse in the neighborhood and hidden away at Hull-House.
While Addams made clear that there was no such baby at the settlement, she valued the meanings embedded in the tale for immigrants, and used the story to frame social problems made clear during the course of the episode.
Addams was a persuasive and eloquent writer. Over the course of her lifetime, she published eleven books and hundreds of articles addressing the pressing issues of her time. Through her writing, she was able to convey the details of neighborhood life in a way that gave dignity to the human dramas she encountered. The uncanny episode of the devil baby became a way to discuss the plights of immigrants in the community—and deal with issues of gender, aging, poverty, folklore, and memory.
IN JANE ADDAMS' WORDS:
“Many of them, who came to see the Devil Baby had been forced to face tragic experiences, the powers of brutality and horror had had full scope in their lives and for years they had had acquaintance with disaster and death.”
“Some of these old women had struggled for weary years with poverty and much childbearing, had known what it was to be bullied and beaten by their husbands, neglected and ignored by their prosperous children, and burdened . . . .”
“During the weeks of excitement it was the women who really seemed to have come into their own, and perhaps the most significant result of the incident was the reaction of the story upon them. It stirred their minds and memory as with a magic touch, it loosened their tongues and revealed the inner life and thoughts of those who are so often inarticulate.”
“. . . one result from the hypothetical visit of the Devil Baby to Hull-House will, I think, remain: a realization of the sifting and reconciling power inherent in Memory itself.”
We regret that we are unable to respond to requests from paranormal groups.