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Jane Addams
Jane Addams - Bain News Service.jpg
c. 1926
Born (1860-09-06)September 6, 1860
Died May 21, 1935(1935-05-21) (aged 74)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S
Education Rockford Female Seminary
Occupation Social Worker and political activist, author and lecturer, community organizer, public intellectual
Parent(s) John H. Addams
Sarah Weber (Addams)
Awards Nobel Peace Prize (1931)
Jane Addams signature.svg

Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) was an American social worker and sociologist. She was born in Cedarville, Illinois. In 1886, she founded a place called Hull House along with Ellen Gates Starr. It tried to take care of the problems poor people and immigrants faced in Chicago. She wanted more peace, and more civil rights for immigrants and women. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, and was the first American woman to earn it. She was the sister of Alice Haldeman. She died in Chicago.


Jane Addams
Jane Addams as a young woman, undated studio portrait by Cox, Chicago

Born in Cedarville, Illinois, Jane Addams was the eighth of nine children born into a prosperous miller family. Her mother was Sarah (née Weber) and her father was an agricultural businessman and state senator John H. Addams. She was born with a spinal birth defect and although this was later corrected by surgery, she never fully recovered.

Addams' father taught her philanthropy and care for people. He encouraged her to pursue a higher education. She was educated in the United States and Europe, graduating from the Rockford Female Seminary (now Rockford College) in Rockford, Illinois.

While in London, Addams was influenced by Andrew Mearn's essay, The Bitter Cry of Outcast London, which highlighted slum conditions. She visited Europe when she was 27 years old, visiting Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in the East End of London.

Hull House

Hull House, Chicago, IL
Hull House, Chicago, IL

In 1889 she and her friend, Ellen Gates Starr co-founded Hull House in Chicago, Illinois, one of the first settlement houses in the United States. At its height, Hull House was visited each week by around two thousand people. Its facilities included a night school for adults, kindergarten classes, clubs for older children, a public kitchen, an art gallery, a coffeehouse, a gymnasium, a girls club, a swimming pool, a book bindery, a music school, a drama group, a library, and labor-related divisions. She is probably most remembered for her adult night school, and a forerunner of the continuing education classes offered by many community colleges today.

Hull House also served as a women's sociological institution. Addams was a friend and colleague to the early members of the Chicago School of Sociology, influencing their thought through her work in applied sociology and, in 1893, co-authoring the Hull-House Maps and Papers that came to define the interests and methodologies of the School. She worked with George H. Mead on social reform issues including promoting women's rights, ending child labor, and the mediating during the 1910 Garment Workers' Strike.

Hull House also offered an employment bureau, an art gallery, libraries, and music and art classes. Among the projects that the members of the Hull House opened were the Immigrants' Protective League, the Juvenile Protective Association, the first juvenile court in the United States, and a Juvenile Psychopathic Clinic.

Peace Movement

Jane Addams and Miss Elizabeth Burke
Delegation to the Women's Suffrage Legislature Jane Addams (left) and Miss Elizabeth Burke of the University of Chicago, 1911

Addams helped organize the Women's Peace Party and the International Congress of Women in an effort to avert the first World War. In 1917, after America entered the war, she was expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In 1919 she was elected first president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the successor organization to the Women's Peace Party. She continued in the presidency until her death.


Jane Addams 1940 Issue-10c
Addams is honored in the 'Famous Americans Series', postal Issues of 1940

Jane Addams was a member of the NAACP, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and the first vice-president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1911. In 1901 she founded the Juvenile Court Committee which has since become the Juvenile Protective Association, a private nonprofit organization in Chicago that protects children from abuse and neglect. She was also actively involved with Pi Gamma Mu, the social science honor society, from the 1920s until her death, because of its emphasis on social service and the humanization of the social science disciplines. In 1998 the British Columbia Branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom commissioned Canadian artist Christian Cardell Corbet to create a bronze medallion of Jane Addams to celebrate her life and achievements. The medallion has since been collected by several important museums.

The Jane Addams Peace Association, together with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, give the annual Jane Addams Children's Book Awards to children's books that promote peace, equality, multiculturalism, and peaceful solutions.

A 2007 joint resolution of the Illinois General Assembly, HJR 19 (Currie), would rename the Northwest Tollway as the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.

The Jane Addam's Trail is a bicycling, hiking, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing trail which stretches from Freeport, Illinois to the Wisconsin state line. It is 12.85 miles long, and is part of the larger Grand Illinois Trail, which is over 575 miles long.

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