(September 8, 1860 – May 21, 1935), known as the "mother
" of social work
was a pioneer American settlement
activist/reformer, social worker, public philosopher
public administrator, protestor
, and leader
in women's suffrage
and world peace
She co-founded, with Ellen Gates Starr
, an early settlement house in the United States
, Chicago's Hull House
that would later become known as one of the most famous settlement houses in America
. In an era when presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt
and Woodrow Wilson
identified themselves as reformers and social activists, Addams was one of the most prominent
reformers of the Progressive Era
. She helped America address and focus on issues that were of concern to mothers, such as the needs of children, local public health, and world peace
. In her essay "Utilization of Women in City Government," Jane Addams noted the connection between the workings of government and the household, stating that many departments of government, such as sanitation and the schooling of children, could be traced back to traditional women's roles in the private sphere. Thus, these were matters of which women would have more knowledge than men, so women needed the vote to best voice their opinions.
She said that if women were to be responsible for cleaning up their communities and making them better places to live, they needed to be able to vote to do so effectively. Addams became a role model for middle-class
women who volunteered to uplift their communities. She is increasingly being recognized as a member of the American pragmatist
school of philosophy, and is known by many as the first woman "public philosopher in the history of the United States.
In 1889 she co-founded Hull House
, and in 1920 she was a co-founder for the ACLU
In 1931 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
, and is recognized as the founder of the social work
profession in the United States.
Born in Cedarville, Illinois, Jane Addams was the youngest of eight children born into a prosperous northern Illinois family of English-American descent which traced back to colonial New England; her father was politically prominent. Three of her siblings died in infancy, and another died at age 16, leaving only four by the time Addams was age eight. Her mother, Sarah Addams (née Weber), died when Jane was two years old.
Addams spent her childhood playing outdoors, reading indoors, and attending Sunday school. When she was four she contracted tuberculosis of the spine, known as Potts's disease, which caused a curvature in her spine and lifelong health problems. This made it complicated as a child to function with the other children, considering she had a limp and could not run as well. As a child, she thought she was "ugly" and later remembered wanting not to embarrass her father, when he was dressed in his Sunday best, by walking down the street with him.
Addams adored her father when she was a child, as she made clear in the stories of her memoir, Twenty Years at Hull House (1910). John Huy Addams was an agricultural businessman with large timber, cattle, and agricultural holdings; flour and timber mills; and a woolen factory. He was the president of The Second National Bank of Freeport. He remarried in 1868, when Jane was eight years old. His second wife was Anna Hostetter Haldeman, the widow of a miller in Freeport.
John Addams was a founding member of the Illinois Republican Party, served as an Illinois State Senator (1855–70), and supported his friend Abraham Lincoln in his candidacies, for senator (1854) and the presidency (1860). John Addams kept a letter from Lincoln in his desk, and Jane Addams loved to look at it as a child.
In her teens, Addams had big dreams—to do something useful in the world. Long interested in the poor from her reading of Dickens and inspired by her mother's kindness to the Cedarville poor, she decided to become a doctor so that she could live and work among the poor. It was a vague idea, nurtured by literary fiction. She was a voracious reader.
This page was last edited on 13 June 2018, at 16:31.
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