Student Brings Jane Addams Biographer to Arcadia

By Purnell T. Cropper | September 17, 2010

By Sarah R. Schwartz ’10

On Thursday, Sept. 16, more than 65 people showed up to listen to a discussion by Louise Knight, a noted biographer of Jane Addams. The event happened as a result of the efforts of International Studies and Spanish major Amanda Nosel ’11, who spent the summer interning at the Philadelphia Chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Nosel used the connections she cultivated at WILPF to secure Knight for an event at Arcadia.

“People were enthusiastic and interested in what Knight had to say and were surprised to learn everything Jane Addams accomplished during a time when the freedoms awarded to women had not yet come to fruition,” says Nosel of the event.

“It was wonderful to be able to finally meet and listen to someone that I had corresponded with for the past few months, and provide her with an audience that was interested in her topic of discussion. I am extremely grateful to have had the help and support of Arcadia staff and faculty, and am very pleased with how the event turned out.”

Last spring, Nosel decided that a summer internship would be beneficial to her as she approached her senior year and to help her with her plans to enter a post-graduate program or find an entry-level position in the field of Foreign Affairs. She sent her résumé to WILPF, an organization that strives toward racial, social and economic justice through education, challenging biases, and strengthening relationships and movements for justice, peace and racial democracy.  Soon after Nosel was contacted by the co-chair for the Philadelphia branch who informed her that though interns typically only worked in the Boston branch, she was impressed with her résumé. After an interview, Nosel was offered an internship.

“WILPF really embraced my role and my opinions, and have really allowed me to focus on areas of particular interest to me, as well as to the organization,” says Nosel. “I couldn’t have asked for a better organization to be working with.”

Nosel spent her time helping the members of WILPF research modern-day issues in an effort to broaden the organization’s exposure to younger generations.

As she educated herself on WILPF’s evolution since 1915, she found herself learning about Jane Addams, an integral figure in the women’s suffrage movement and founder of the precursor to the WILPF, the Women’s Peace Party.

“One of my goals is to notify younger generations about the issues that WILPF addresses. WILPF asked me to organize a venue for Knight to discuss her new book, and I thought Arcadia would not only be convenient, but appropriate as well,” says Nosel. “Addams was very dedicated to the global community, as well as domestic issues, and spent much of her career fighting for world peace and an end to the international conflicts taking place at the time, which led to her receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. I’m hoping that Knight’s presentation will help me garner more awareness, more support and possibly new members.”

She notes the event would not have been possible without the support and insight of Dr. Warren Haffar, Assistant Professor and Director of International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Dr. Jeffrey Shultz, Professor of Education and Assistant Provost for Special Projects, and Judith Dalton, Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs. She adds, “I think it really is very important for people to realize that in certain circumstances, they have to be co-dependent on others, and therefore work well with others.”

Knight’s newest biography, Jane Addams: Spirit in Action, was published in August by W.W. Norton. To see more before Knight’s appearance, watch an interview with two Revolutionary War historians.