Sue Young Histories

Jane Addams 1860 - 1935

December 30, 2007

jane addamsJane Addams 1860 - 1935 was a social reformer who contributed to new ideas of childhood. Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Addams founded Hull House in 1889 (now a part of the University of Illinois at Chicago) and devoted her life to the lower classes and to the cause of active local government. Jane Addams founded the International Women’s League of Peace and Freedom in 1915, along with Charlotte Despard and Helena Swanwick.

Addams was well to do and well connected and her close friends included Alice Hamilton (who graduated from the Homeopathic University of Michigan after president James B Angell established a separate School of Homeopathy there in 1891), Emily Greeb Balch (who also received the Nobel Peace Prize), Aletta Jacobs, Louise De Koven Bowen, Ellen G. Starr and Julia Lathrop, homeopath Cornelia de Bey, Edith Abbott, Grace Abbott, Florence Kelley, Mary McDowell, Julia Holmes Abbott Smith, Alzina Stevens and Sophonisba Breckinridge

Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois, the eighth of nine children. Her father was a prosperous miller and local political leader who served for sixteen years as a state senator and fought as an officer in the Civil War; he was a friend of Abraham Lincoln

Because of a congenital spinal defect, Jane was not physically vigorous when young nor truly robust even later in life, but her spinal difficulty was remedied by surgery…

Addams wanted to study medicine at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (the only establishment who would admit women):

Jane went to Philadelphia to go to medical school and because she worked so hard she became ill and a pain in her back, from her childhood returned. Jane ended up having to stay in bed, strapped to a board, for six months so her back could heal. After Jane recovered from her illness, she still had to wear a tight brace to stop the strain on her back. This brace helped Jane so she wasn’t in pain all the time… continue reading:

Florence Kelley and Jane Addams became fast friends:

Jane Addams supplied Florence Kelley with room, board, and employment and soon after she arrived introduced her to Henry Demarest Lloyd, a leading critic of American labor policies who lived with his wife Jessie and their young children in nearby Winnetka.

The Lloyds readily agreed to add Florence Kelley’s children to their large nursery, an arrangement that began a lifelong relationship between the two families. A sign of the extent to which responsibility for Florence Kelley’s children was later assumed by members of the Hull House community, even after her departure, was the fact that Jane Addams’s closest personal friend Mary Rozet Smith, regularly and quietly helped Florence Kelley pay for their school and college tuition…

The close relationship between Hull House and other groups of women in Chicago was exemplified in Florence Kelley’s interaction with the Chicago Women’s Club (president homeopath Julia Holmes Abbott Smith). The minutes of the club’s first meeting after Florence Kelley’s arrived in Chicago show that on January 25, 1892, she spoke under the sponsorship of Jane Addams on the sweating system and urged that a committee be created on the problem…

Addams wrote Twenty Years at Hull-House, The Second Twenty Years at Hull-House, Forty Years at Hull-House, Democracy and Social Ethics, The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets, The Excellent Becomes the Permanent, Peace and Bread in Time of War, Newer Ideals of Peace: The Moral Substitutes for War, A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil, The Long Road of Woman’s Memory, Women at the Hague: The International Congress of Women and Its Results, Philanthropy and Social Progress: Seven Essays, The Social Thought of Jane Addams, What I Owe to My Father, The Overthrow of the War System, The Child, the Clinic and the Court and many others.


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