Jane Addams is chiefly famous as a social reformer, feminist and pacifist during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was born to an affluent state senator and businessman on the 6th of September 1860 in Cedarville, Illinois as eighth of nine children, so she had lived a life of privilege. But in the 1880s, she struggled to find her place in the world, battling with health issues at an early age. After she graduated from the Rockford Female Seminary in Illinois in 1881, she travelled with friend Ellen Gates Starr and visited the famed Toynbee Hall in London, England. Both of them were so impressed by such a settlement house that they sought to create one in Chicago—a dream that did not take long to realize. Here are the accomplishments of Jane Addams:
1. She Co-Founded The Hull House In Chicago.
In 1889, Addams and Starr built one of the first settlements in both North America and the US, as well as the first in Chicago—the Hull House. Named after the building’s original owner, the house provided services for the poor population and immigrants living in the city. Over the years, the organization expanded to include more than 10 buildings, extending their services to include educational courses, child care, a public kitchen, an art gallery and other several social programs. But in 1963, the University of Illinois’ Chicago campus was constructed, forcing the Hull House to move its headquarters, resulting to the demolition of most of the organization’s original buildings. Nevertheless, the house was transformed into a monument to honor Addams, which still remains standing today.
2. She Had Served As Leader Of Some Prominent Charitable Organizations In The US.
Aside from her work for the Hull House, Addams served on the Board of Education of Chicago in 1905 and later chaired its School Management Committee. 5 years later, she became the first female president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections (National Conference of Social Work) and went on to establish the National Federation of Settlements the following year and led it for more than 20 years thereafter.
3. She Was a Notable Peace Activist And Pacifist.
Addams was also a deeply committed peace activist and pacifist, frequently giving lectures on the subject of peace. She compiled her talks on ending World War I in “Newer Ideals of Peace”, which she published in 1907. After the war broke, she became the chairperson of the Women’s Peace Party. Along with Alice Hamilton and Emily Greene Balch, she attended the International Congress of Women at The Hague in 1915 and worked a social report entitled, “Women at The Hague: The International Congress of Women and Its Results”. As part of her commitment to end the war, Addams served as the president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and received the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize.
Jane Addams’ health started to decline seriously after suffering from a heart attack in 1926 and finally died on the 21st of May 1935 at the age of 74. Today, she is remembered as a pioneer in social work and one of the country’s leading pacifists.