Friday, May 15, 2009

Fredrich von Hugel, Frances Crane Lillie 1924

I am very much looking forward to your visit...will you, please, bring your work--knitting, sewing, crochet or the like, with you? I am never quite comfortable speaking to any woman unless her fingers are busy meanwhile. If, alas, you do not work thus, I shall give you a book to cut open."

F.v.Hugel, Oct 16, 1924, 13 Vicarage Gate

The GTU Archives has a small collection of correspondence that Francis Lillie Crane received from Fredrich von Hugel (1952-1925) and Jacques Maritain (1882–1973). The Catholic Modernist and French philosopher are well known but the story of Crane is worth reviewing.

Frances Crane (1869-1958), daughter of the wealthy Chicago manufacturer, was considered the black sheep of the family due to her activism and interests. She was a member of the board of Protective Agency for Women and Children in Chicago. She supported the Hull House of Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. In 1915, she was arrested during the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union strike. She complained to the mayor that the police looked away while private policemen beat up the strikers. ILGWU leader Sidney Hillman wrote her, "You may never understand how much it meant to me to have a woman like yourself defy the edicts of society and boldly espouse the cause of the weak and oppressed."

She and her husband, Frank R. Lillie, chairman of the Zoology Department, were significant donors to the University of Chicago. She focused on the library and religious causes; he on scientific studies. According to the UC donor website, along with her activism, her reputation was due to "her adoption of a mystical Catholicism, tinged later in life with elements of Zen Buddhism." Among her accomplishments, she created the first Marian garden in the US in 1932 at St. Joseph's Church in Cape Cod, close to the marine lab where her husband worked.

This brief note just touches the surface of her story. Unfortunately, a memoir on her life is self published and hard to find. However, a search on the web yields certain events of her life that have touched other people.

This post was sparked by a researcher's request for more information about the Friedrich Von Hugel - Jacques Maritain Letters: Frances Crane Lillie Collection, 1920 -1934. The significant letters from von Hugel can found in Selected letters, 1896-1924, edited with a memoir by Bernard Holland. Hügel, Friedrich, Freiherr von, 1852-1925. London, J.M. Dent & sons ltd. [1933].

For more information on this small collection, see the finding aid or contact Special Collections at 510/649-2523,

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