Children in line near the retaining wall at Hull House, Chicago, 1908 (Wikipedia).
The Devil-Baby at Hull House*
Jane Addams, 1916
First appeared in The Atlantic, October 1926.
*Selected by Joyce Carol Oates for The Best American Essays of the Century (Houghton Miflin, 2000).
The knowledge of the existence of the Devil Baby burst upon the residents of Hull-House one day when three Italian women, with an excited rush through the door, demanded that he be shown to them. No amount of denial convinced them that he was not there, for they knew exactly what he was like, with his cloven hoofs, his pointed ears and diminutive tail; moreover, the Devil Baby had been able to speak as soon as he was born and was most shockingly profane.
The three women were but the forerunners of a veritable multitude; for six weeks the streams of visitors from every…
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