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The Private Roots of American Political Development: The Immigrants' Protective League's “Friendly and Sympathetic Touch,” 1908–19241

  • Carol Nackenoff (a1)
Abstract

This article aims to illuminate how non-state actors participate in forging public institutions and in establishing public agendas. It also sets out to identify novel mechanisms of state building. It does so by examining the historical experience of the Immigrants' Protective League (IPL) from its founding in 1908 through 1924. The history of the IPL highlights the role of organized, networked women in generating new boundary stories and doing boundary work; in conducting research and enhancing legibility; in incubating new policy experiments; and in moving the national, state, and local governments to take up new tasks in the progressive era. Focusing on women's activism in this period, and efforts to link immigrants to categories of the vulnerable, reveals that porous boundaries, hybrid power-sharing arrangements, and public-private collaborations may be more typical in forging new American institutions and public agendas than is generally recognized—and insufficiently captured by a narrative of a weak state borrowing temporary capacity from private actors.

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Copyright
The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license
Corresponding author
cnacken1@swarthmore.edu
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1.

The author would like to thank Swarthmore college student Minh-Duyen Nguyen (2013) for research assistance, and three anonymous reviewers and the editors of SAPD for extremely helpful comments on this manuscript. I owe additional debts to Kathleen S. Sullivan, Julie Novkov, Eileen McDonagh, and James Greer for helping me think through this material. I owe special thanks to the librarians at the Special Collections and University Archives Department of the Richard J. Daley Library, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Special Collections Research Center, Regenstein Library, University of Chicago. The term in quotations comes from “Eleven Years of Community Service: A Summary of the Work of the Immigrants Protective League” (January 1920), 1. IPL Reports—Supplement II, Box 4, Folder 60a, Richard J. Daley Library, University of Illinois at Chicago [henceforth, UIC].

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Stephen Skowronek , Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877–1920 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982)

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Erik Schneiderhan , “Pragmatism and Empirical Sociology: The Case of Jane Addams and Hull-House, 1889–1895,” Theory and Society 40 (2011), 611

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Julie Novkov , Constituting Workers, Protecting Women: Gender, Law and Labor in the Progressive Era and New Deal Years (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001)

Jane Addams , “A Function of the Social Settlement,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 13 (May 1899), 52

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Jacob S. Hacker , The Divided Welfare State: The Battle over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

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Studies in American Political Development
  • ISSN: 0898-588X
  • EISSN: 1469-8692
  • URL: /core/journals/studies-in-american-political-development
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