“ On September 6, 1860 Laura Jane Addams was born to Sarah Weber Addams and John Addams, the same year in which Abraham Lincoln ran for president” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
“’ Jenny’ as they called her as a baby was strongly influenced by her father who lead a very active life. He was in the State Legislature for sixteen years and directed a bank as well as a railroad” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
“ Her mother Sarah Weber Addams was a strong woman and ‘stern disciplinarian’ of her eight children ( Bettis , 2006 ).
“ When Jenny was only three her mother became very ill and died. Martha, the eldest, took over in raising the family. As a result of not having any siblings her age Jenny was often given her way and disliked greatly being reprimanded. Although it has been stated that Jenny was pretty, she felt self-conscience about the curve in her spine which as a result, made her feel ugly and crippled” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
Jane Addams grew very close to her father until he remarried Ana Halderman the former piano teacher.
Jane attended college at Rockford College for women. “Suggesting that Jane succeeded in school is an understatement. Her accumulative GPA out of 10 was a 9.862; she was class president, head of the literary society, editor of the school magazine and valedictorian of her class. She received her bachelor's degree in 1910” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
“ Unexpectedly while on vacation with Jane, John Addams (her father) died of acute appendicitis. Without his strong personality, the Addams family seemed to fall apart. After entering into medical school Jane felt as if things were not as she wanted. She could do the work but did not feel the passion as before. As a result, her family suggested she travel in Europe. Agreeing that this would be a good idea she did so with an old classmate Ellen Starr (1971)” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
“ In Twenty Years at Hull House , Jane describes her first experience in East London and the overwhelming poverty which was inflicted upon this city. This city seemed to make more of an impact on her than any other she had visited in Europe. She mentions the attraction she had to poverty-stricken cities. She seems to condemn herself for referring back to literature to explain the extreme poverty to which she had been exposed” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
As a result of these experiences Jane opened the Hull house in Chicago.
“ The Hull House charter read that it was ‘to provide a center for a higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago’ (1995). Jane believed that the nation did not like to acknowledge the fact that its threat to democracy was caused by the extremes in classes. She stated that ‘The good we seek for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secure for all of us.’ This seemed to not only show through in her goals for the Hull House but she seemed to practice it throughout her life as well. ‘Overaccumulation at one end of society and destitution at the other’ separated people. The organizations that she started tried to equalize the inequality between people and educate them on things they had in common as well as the qualities that made them unique; because she believed that the ‘things that make men like are finer and better than the things that keep them apart.’ This is most likely why she started the Hull House ” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
“ It was in 1917, when the US joined the war, that Jane started to be strongly criticized. In 1919, Jane was the American delegate for the Second Women's Peace Conference where the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom began. Jane was elected the first president, a position she held until her death (1960). She assisted Herbert Hoover by supplying food and other necessities to women and children of the opposing side. This is explained in further detail in Peace and Bread in Time of War which she wrote in 1922” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
“ Among other children's issues, Jane was concerned with the working conditions of young adults. After she spoke to the head of the Illinois Bureau of Labor, he had a commission investigate. When they reported back, it was the beginning of regulations which became the first laws in Illinois concerning factories” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
“ Although she made great contributions to the field of sociology, she is rarely acknowledged” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
“ In 1935, three days after it was discovered that Jane had cancer, she died It has been estimated that the service in the Hull House courthouse was visited by more than 2,000 people an hour. At the time of her death she had written ten books, more than two thousand articles and had given hundreds of speeches (1995)” ( Bettis , 2006 ).
She was also awarded the nobel peace prize in 1931. Click here to view a timeline of her extensive accomplishments.
The development of Hull house was a cornerstone model of the power of community involvement, and the impact it can have on education.
“ In the experimental mode they vaunted--in tune with the pragmatist ideas that Dewey and Addams liked to discuss--the residents fashioned programs and services in response to the needs that the neighbors voiced. They learned, more or less, to hold their middle-class certainties in check and, at least in theory, to follow the neighbors' lead. Immigrants loved societies, and there were clubs of many sorts: for sports, self-improvement, study, and ethnic unity. They offered kindergarten and nursery care for children; a labor bureau to help people find jobs; theater groups and art groups and reading groups and English classes. Hull House gave space to anyone with a hankering to organize something: women, along with the bored teenagers, were particular beneficiaries, since immigrant culture typically stressed workingmen's fraternal societies that excluded women and the young. It provided services that could be had nowhere else, from public toilets to a Working People's Social Science Club that brought together adepts from various political tendencies and sects--anarchists, socialists, "pure and simple" unionists, Social Gospel Christians, and boosters of capitalism--to debate the issues of the day” (Stansell, 2006).
Jane Addams was an activist for the poor, and her name has become synonymous with social reform, and her influence is still felt today.
The Jane Addams Book Award is still given to books that reflect the accomplishments of a “women who struck at the roots of social injustice, through astute, persistant, thoughful action” (Griffith, 2005).
Click here to view the information about the Jane Addams Peace Foundation, and the awards given out this year.
Hull House & Jane Addams “ Bottom two pictures: A group of graduate students from the University of Northern Iowa's Leisure, Youth and Human Service Program recently visited the Hull-House Museum in Chicago. (Main picture) The original Hull-House structure circa 1889” (Dieser, 2004).
“ Hull House in the early 1900s. (CHS photo by Branes Crosby. ICHi-19288)” (Chicago Historical Society, 1999). Click here to visit photos and information about the Jane Addams Hull House Museum as it exists today,