Jane Addams

Founder: Hull House

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” –Jane Addams

Jane Addams came of age in the aftermath of the Civil War. Her father was a successful businessman, a friend and admirer of Abraham Lincoln. As a child, Jane accompanied her father on a business trip to a nearby mill town where she witnessed the “horrid little houses” in which the millworkers lived. Rather than accept the quiet comfort of her family’s standard of living, Jane decided that one day she would live among the working class. Twenty-some years later she established Hull House in response to the deplorable conditions of the Chicago slums and the immigrant families who lived there. The Jane Addams Hull House Association today impacts 60,000 individuals, families, and community members through 50 programs at over 40 sites throughout metropolitan Chicago.

Jane Addams was also deeply committed to the peaceful resolution of conflict. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914 she joined the International Women’s Peace Conference in their effort to found a court to settle international disputes between nations. In 1931 she was granted the Nobel Peace Prize, the first American woman to receive the award.

One of Jane’s greatest gifts was the ability to understand “two standards of morals, both honestly held and believed in.” Despite her middle class background, she could fully appreciate the morality and standards of the poor. In 1893, Jane chose the topic of domestic service in a speech given to the World’s Congress of Representative Women. Although she was speaking to women of her own class, she questioned their attitudes toward less fortunate women.  In 1909, Jane was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and in 1920 she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Jane Addams legacy lives on in these organizations:

Jane Adams Monograph Cover To learn more about her inspirational life and work, Jane Adams: the founding of Hull House can be purchased as an e-book for the modest price of $4.99. Search for it by name or under the heading “Mobilizing the Human Spirit” at the following book sellers: Apple iBookstore (for iPad), Amazon (for Kindle,), Barnes & Noble (for Nook) and many other e-book retailers