Addams, Jane, 1860-1935

Alternative names
Birth 1860-09-06
Death 1935-05-21

Biographical notes:

Social reformer; founder of Hull House settlement, Chicago.

From the description of Letter: Hull-House, Chicago, to Louis J. Keller, Chicago, 1912 May 13. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 26496308

From the description of Letter: Hull-House, Chicago, to Paul M. Angle, Springfield, Ill., 1932 June 24. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 26496294

Founder of Hull House in Chicago.

From the description of Correspondence 1898, 1904. (Denver Public Library). WorldCat record id: 50807644

Laura Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois on September 6, 1860. She attended the Rockford Female Seminary from 1877-1881 and received one of their first A.B. degrees in 1882. In 1889 Addams co-founded the social settlement Hull-House with Ellen Gates Starr. Addams became a leader in the settlement movement and focused much of her energy on such reform issues as education, child and immigrant protection, suffrage, and improved working and living conditions for working men and women. During World War I, Jane Addams achieved renown as a leader in the international peace movement, and she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Addams died in Chicago on May 21,1935.

From the description of Jane Addams papers, 1860-1960 (inclusive), [microform]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122563376

Settlement worker, founder of Hull House, peace activist.

From the description of Women and peace : address on women in international affairs at the Century of Progress : typescript, 1933. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 14171889

Social reformer and peace worker, Jane Addams was the founder of Hull House in Chicago. For biographical information, see Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (1971).

From the description of Correspondence, 1872-1934 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232007668

American social worker, author and advocate of international peace. Won the Nobel Peace prize in 1931.

From the guide to the Jane Addams letters, 1902, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

American reformer and sociologist, founder of Hull-House.

From the description of Typed letter signed : Hull-House, Chicago, to Edward Wagenknecht, 1933 Apr. 14. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270867979

American social settlement worker and peace advocate.

From the description of [Correspondence] / Jane Addams. 1919-1935 (Knox College). WorldCat record id: 7518064

Social reformer, pacifist, feminist, Nobel Prize winner; co-founder of Hull-House, the first settlement house in America, in 1889; from 1915-1919, served as chairman of the Woman's Peace Party (U.S.) and the International Committee of Women for Permament Peace, both forerunners of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF); international president of WILPF from 1919-1929 and honorary international president from 1929 until her death; awarded the Nobel Prize for peace in 1931.

From the description of Papers, 1838-, 1880-1935 (bulk). (Swarthmore College, Peace Collection). WorldCat record id: 22880057

Jane Addams as a young woman, undated Studio portrait by Cox, Chicago

(Laura) Jane Addams was born on 6 September 1860 in Cedarville, Illinois. She was the youngest of five children of John Huy Addams and Sarah Weber Addams. Her father was a prosperous mill owner and a leader in state politics; he served for sixteen years as an Illinois state senator. Her mother died when Addams was only two years old. Her father married Anna H. Haldeman in 1865, which added two stepbrothers to the family. Jane Addams was profoundly influenced by her father. He encouraged her education and ambition; however, when she set her heart on attending Smith College, he refused to send her so far away from home. In 1877, she entered Rockford Female Seminary in nearby Rockford, Illinois. In 1881, Addams was the valedictorian of her graduating class. One year later she received a bachelor's degree when the school became the Rockford College for Women.

Addams planned to study medicine and become a doctor. In 1881, she began her schooling at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. Her father's sudden death and her own ill health forced Addams to abandon her medical studies. In 1882, she had surgery to remedy a congenital spinal defect. Addams, accompanied by her stepmother, traveled in Europe from 1883 until 1885. In London's East end she observed urban poverty first hand; this exposure left a lasting impression on Addams. In 1887, Addams returned to Europe with Ellen Gates Starr, a Rockford classmate. On this trip, which included a visit to Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in London's East End, Addams and Starr formulated ideas about establishing a settlement house in the U.S. that would directly address the human consequences of rapid industrialization, immigration, and urban poverty.

After their return to the United States in 1899, Addams and Starr leased a dilapidated mansion in one of the poorest immigrant slums of Chicago on the corner of Halstead and Polk streets. Hull House, which was named after the original owner, was the first settlement house in America. Its mission was to "investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago" and function as a center of civic and social life in a neighborhood that consisted of multiple immigrant groups. It was both an educational and a philanthropic activity. Addams, Starr, and other activists and reformers who resided at Hull House learned first-hand the needs of a diverse urban community. Hull House residents raised money; found volunteers, especially among the growing number of female college students and graduates; helped sick children, displaced families, and the unemployed; taught vocational and educational classes; and offered their support to Chicago's working people. Hull House provided numerous activities and services including: health and child care, clubs for both children and adults, an art gallery, kitchen, gymnasium, music school, theater, library, employment bureau, and a labor museum.

Through her work at Hull House, Addams became heavily involved with civic affairs of Chicago and was a leader in the social reform movement. She fought for legislation regarding housing, sanitation, factory inspection, and immigrant rights. She also effectively campaigned for child labor laws and other protective legislation. Addams became strongly allied with the labor movement and allowed union organizing meetings to be held at Hull House. In 1910, she arbitrated a garment strike involving 90,000 workers. That year she also became Vice President of the American Branch of International Association for Labor Legislation. Addams was a feminist and supported the women's suffrage campaign. She served as Vice President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (1911-14). She was also active in the Progressive Party and especially supported its platform for industrial safety.

Hull House brought Jane Addams world-wide celebrity, and she was recognized as a pioneer in the field of social work. However, with the onset of war in Europe in the 1910s, public opinion turned against Addams as she became increasingly active in the pacifist and internationalist movements. In 1915, Addams co-founded the Women's Peace Party (WPP). Addams and the WPP established strong networks of peace activists in the U.S. and abroad, and in 1919, the WPP evolved into the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, a still-thriving organization that "works to achieve through peaceful means world disarmament, full rights for women, racial and economic justice, an end to all forms of violence, and to establish those political, social, and psychological conditions which can assure peace, freedom, and justice for all." Jane Addams served as the first president of WILPF (1919-1929). In 1931, Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her pacifist activism. She was the first American woman to receive this honor.

Addams wrote prodigiously throughout her life, and the profits from her books were her main source of income. Some of her notable works are Newer Ideals of Peace (1907), Twenty Years at Hull House (1910), The Long Road of Women's Memory (1916), Peace and Bread in Time of War (1922), and The Second Twenty Years at Hull House (1930). She received honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities including: Wisconsin, Smith, Yale, Tufts, Northwestern, Chicago, and Bryn Mawr. Among her many other achievements and commitments, Jane Addams was a founding member of the NAACP (1909) and the ACLU (1920). She died of cancer in 1935, and she was buried at her childhood home in Cedarville, Illinois.

From the guide to the Jane Addams Papers MS 1., 1904-1960, 1904-1936, (Sophia Smith Collection)

Pacifist, labor organizer, settlement house worker, women's rights advocate.

Born Cedarville, Illinois, 1860. B.A. Rockford College, (IL) 1882. Traveled frequently in Europe, 1883-1930. Co-founded Hull House Settlement in Chicago, 1889, with Ellen Gates Starr. Vice President National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1911-14; co-founder Women's Peace Party (later called Women's International League For Peace and Freedom), 1915 and was its first president, 1919-29; active in Women's Trade Union League, ca. 1904, and NAACP, ca. 1909. Wrote numerous books and articles, and lecturer on peace and social reform. First American woman to win Nobel Peace Prize, 1931.

From the description of Papers, 1904-1960 (bulk 1904-1936). (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 36823124

American author and social reformer.

Handwritten program of a meeting in which Jane Addams would be speaking. The meeting seems to be religious in nature because it includes an invocation, a benediction, and the singing of religious hymns. The author of the item is unknown. Also included is an autograph of Jane Addams. The dates of the materials are uncertain.

From the description of Autograph and meeting program, ca. 1910. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 367558955


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  • Women social reformers
  • Social service finance
  • Social settlements
  • Social service
  • Women in charitable work
  • Pacifists--History--Sources
  • Social reformers
  • Philanthropists
  • Peace movements--History--20th century
  • Women social reformers--United States--History--Sources
  • Women--Suffrage--United States--History--Sources
  • Women and peace
  • Women--Suffrage--History
  • Women and peace--History--Sources
  • Social settlements--United States--History--Sources
  • Fund raising
  • Women social workers
  • Labor movement--History
  • Women social reformers--History
  • Social settlements--History
  • Peace--Societies, etc
  • Women
  • Women authors--Autographs
  • Women social reformers--Autographs
  • Women volunteers in social service--History


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  • United States (as recorded)
  • Chicago (Ill.) (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Illinois--Chicago (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Chicago (Ill.) (as recorded)
  • Women in the labor movement--United States (as recorded)
  • Illinois--Chicago (as recorded)
  • Chicago (Ill.) (as recorded)