Jane Addams (1860-1935) grew up in a Quaker home 120 miles northwest of Chicago. Her father was an abolitionist, a friend of Abraham Lincoln and a successful businessman who wanted his children to receive a good education. At a time when few women went to college, Addams studied at the Rockford Female Seminary where social justice seeds were planted in her mind and heart.
Thanks to an inheritance, Addams was able to travel to Europe where she explored sites generally not cited in tourist guides. One of those places was Toynbee Hall, a settlement house for the poor who lived in London’s East End. That turned out to be the inspiration for Hull-House which Addams and Ellen Gates Starr established in Chicago in 1889 to serve immigrant women and children. A variety of social services were offered there including job training, an employment office, legal aid, childcare and healthcare. While the rich elite who lived only a few miles away from Hull-House enjoyed the extravagances of the Gilded Age, Addams sought to end class division and poverty.
Addams was a social worker and a sociologist. She was a suffragist and a feminist (long before that word existed). Her articles appeared in leading magazines and she was in high demand as a speaker. She was a pacifist and opposed the US entering into World War I. For that stance, Addams was attacked by the press and thrown out of the Daughters of the American Revolution. For that stance and for all the work Addams did at Hull-House, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, the first American woman to be given that honor.
Why this stop? The Blue Line UIC/Halsted stop is an 8 minute walk to the Hull-House Museum.
Learn more about Jane Addams in this short video.
Get involved—Did you know that the Hull-House offered free music classes to children? The People’s Music School, founded by Dr. Rita Simó, offers free music lessons to underserved youth today. Find out how you can take part in this worthy cause.
Connect—Visit the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.
Image —National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; partial gift of Mrs. Nancy Pierce York and Mrs. Grace Pierce Forbes