Saturday, January 24, 2015

Trouble for Reed in Esperanto-Land

Sinjoro Reed,
grava Esperantisto
While John Barrett may have been the titular head of the Esperanto movement in the United States, his greatest contribution seems to have been that he had Arnold Christen lecture his staff (on a Saturday!) about Esperanto. The actual day-to-day activities of the movement were handled by Edwin C. Reed, whose official position was that of secretary of the Esperanto Association of North America. You couldn’t really expect John Barrett to do these things; after all he was too busy to even learn Esperanto![1]

Judging from an article in the January 24, 1910 Washington Evening Star, there was a moment when Mr. Reed’s position as secretary seemed to be at risk, even though he had been the only person to have held the job, since he had taken the post at the founding of EANA. Prior to the founding of EANA, he had been on the board of the American Esperanto Association, the short-lived predecessor, which was described in Amerika Esperantisto as “not considered adequate or sufficiently democratic in its organization.”

Oddly enough, the crisis mentioned in the Evening Star comes out of nowhere. There are no preceding articles noting any dissension among the Esperantists in Washington, D.C.

Local Society Will Hear of Dr. Reed’s Appointment.
The monthly meeting of the Washington Esperanto Society will be held in the Chamber of Commerce rooms tomorrow (Tuesday) evening at 8 o’clock and not tonight as heretofore announced. Among the announcements to be made is the appointment of Dr. E. C. Reed, secretary of the national society, associate general secretary of the Esperanto Society of the World, and his designation to act as full general secretary as far as American affairs are concerned.

With regard to a stir created recently by a reported attempt to force Dr. Reed out of the Washington organization, the doctor said today: 
“None of the members of the local branch of the Esperanto Society who have participated in the movement against me have ever been distinguished for his labors in the cause. Their activity heretofore has been confined to offering advice on various matters, which they followed with an ‘I told you so’ if things went wrong. I cannot imagine why they should hold me to blame for their imaginary troubles, but if they expect me to resign for their benefit they are mistaken. I am a national officer and am responsible for my actions only to the national executive committee. As a matter of face, I believe that a majority of the members of the local association are behind me, and that I am justified in disregarding these charges after a consideration of their source.”

Edwin C. Reed was not properly referred to as “Dr. Reed,” though it might have been an appropriate way to address his wife.[2] Reed was a lawyer, who worked (variously) at the Chamber of Commerce and in private practice. His work for the EANA seems to have brought him a small amount of money, about $100 a month (which though it was worth more in 1910 than it does in 2015, is still not a lot of money). Reed was born on 5 August 1877 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Canadian parents.[3]

Despite Reed’s prominence in the early Esperanto movement, he was subsequently totally overshadowed by his wife. As I write this, the Wikipedia entry for Ivy Kellerman-Reed makes no mention of her husband, and while he is named in the Vikipedio entry for his wife, there is no entry for him personally. Oddly enough, on his WWII draft registration (for men born between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897), he lists his son Erik K. Reed as a contact, instead of his wife.[4]

While we get that the attempt to oust Mr. Reed from his position as secretary of the EANA was unsuccessful, this article does not answer anything about who or why. As I noted, the whole thing seems to have come out of nowhere, with no earlier article explaining the whole thing.[5] The Esperanto press did not tell the tale. The answer took a few days to come out.

  1. Mr. Barrett could not take advantage of the resources offered by, as the Internet was not been invented during his lifetime. But you can!  ↩
  2. I personally lean on the side of referring to those who hold medical degrees as Dr., but not those who hold other sorts of doctorates. Kellerman-Reed’s doctorate was a Ph.D., hence I would refer to her (in a current context) as Ms. Kellerman-Reed. Given that she used a hyphenated name, but her husband did not, it seems stranger to refer to her as Mrs. Kellerman-Reed, as there is no Mr. Kellerman-Reed.  ↩
  3. This means he was just about to turn ten when Dr. Zamenhof published the Unua Libro.  ↩
  4. I have not tracked the Reeds down on the 1940 Census. Erik Reed does not seem to be with his parents in the 1930 Census. Did they ship the sixteen-year-old off to boarding school? Did he speak Esperanto?  ↩
  5. It is entirely possible it was on a lost page of the Evening Star.  ↩

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