Ernest Moore was born in 1871. While studying at the University of Chicago he married Dorothea Moore in 1896 and the couple became residents of Hull House Settlement.
While living at Hull House Moore carried out a study of the saloon in the Nineteenth Ward of Chicago. His research, The Social Value of the Saloon was published in the American Journal of Sociology in July, 1897.
The Nineteenth Ward of Chicago according to the school census of 1896 has a population of 48,280. It is a workingman's district, and the population is typical of unskilled labor in general. The largest foreign elements in the ward are the Irish, German, Italian, and Bohemian, stated in the order of relative numerical strength. Of those of foreign parentage, about one-half are American born. As to moral condition, neither the extremes of vice nor of virtue are reached, while the general moral tone is rather healthful.
The old house is almost submerged. With its hooded top story of fanciful brick, and its large flanking of additions to right and left, there remain but the long windows and wide doorway to hint of the aspect that was its own in the long gone privacy of the estate of which it was an important and hospitable part of the quiet days before the invasion of crowd and hurry and competition.
These additions are more intrinsic than external - growing out of growing needs - and therefore present in themselves a kind of rough estimate of history of them. Thus, the most extensive area and the highest wall belong to the Children's Building, on the right flank, the corresponding smaller wing being used for lecture and class rooms, with dormitory space above.
About the house are its tributaries, some in material form and some visible only in spirit. Around the southern corner is a brick building, the home of the Jane Club, an active club of working women who in a life of five years have solved some of the most vexing questions of co-operative living in their own social and economic satisfaction.
The saloonkeeper is the only man who keeps open house in the ward. It is his business to entertain. It does not matter that he does not select his guests; that convention is useless among them. In fact, his democracy is one element of his strength. His face is the common meeting ground of his neighbors - and he supplies the stimulus which renders social life possible; there is an accretion of intelligence that comes to him in his business. He hears the best stories. He is the first to get accurate information as to the latest political deals and social mysteries. The common talk of the day passes through his ears and he is known to retain that which is the most interesting.
There is another primal need which the saloon supplies and in most cases supplies well. It is a food-distributing centre - a place where a hungry man can get as much as he wants to eat and drink for a small price. As a rule the food is notoriously good and the price notoriously cheap. That the saloon feeds thousands and feeds them well no one will deny who has passed the middle of the day there.
It is hardly necessary to enlarge further upon the evils of the saloon. They are many and grave, and cry out to society for proper consideration. But proper consideration involves a whole and not a half truth, and the whole truth involves its own power of proper action. In the absence of higher forms of social stimulus and larger social life, the saloon will continue to function in society, and for that great part of humanity which does not possess a more adequate form of social expression.
© John Simkin, April 2013