Famous Women ~ Jane Addams

volunteer firefighters in ColoradJane Addams, born on September 6, 1860, dreamed of becoming a doctor but was frequently ill and unable to pursue her dream. In 1877, she attended Rockville Female Seminary, graduating in 1881. When Jane traveled to London in 1887 with a group of friends, she discovered another passion, which became the cornerstone of her life. She was stunned by the level of poverty she saw in London, but was inspired when she saw Toynbee Hall, a settlement house where workmen could learn a trade.

When she returned home, she went to Chicago determined to copy what she had seen. There, she turned an empty mansion into Hull House, a settlement house where children were cared for and medical care was offered. From Hull House, Jane also worked on cleaning up the disease causing waste that filled the city streets. She worked tirelessly with the poor, and became a well-known speaker at colleges, women’s groups and churches.

By 1898, Jane was know well beyond Chicago for her speeches. In 1915, she became president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, an outlet for her opposition to World War I. She continued her work, writing and speaking, and in 1931 was awarded the Nobel Prize for her social reform efforts as well as her help with worldwide disarmament after the war.

Her dream was to make every child happy. In its heyday, Hull House served 9,000 people per week. But after 120 years, Hull House closed its doors on Friday, which you can read about here. It’s probably impossible to know how many people Jane Addams touched with her life. She was an inspirational American woman.


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