Jane Addams (1860-1935)

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Laura Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) was a civil rights activist, reformer, social worker, sociologist, public administrator, and author from the United States. She was a pivotal figure in the history of social work and women's suffrage in the United States, as well as an advocate for global peace. She was a co-founder of Chicago's Hull House, one of the country's most prominent settlement houses. In 1910, Addams received an honorary master of arts degree from Yale University, making her the first woman to receive such a distinction. She was a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920. (ACLU).

Early Life

Jane Addams (1860-1935) was born into a prosperous Quaker family in Cedarville, Illinois. Following her studies, she visited Toynbee Hall in London, where she was inspired to launch a similar initiative in Chicago in 1889. She co-founded Hull House with her friend Ellen Starr, the first settlement house in the Near West Side, a neighborhood teeming with European immigrants. It gradually grew into a true action center, with plenty of space for children, adult education, culture, and a focus on social improvement. "Addams refused to call her neighbors customers or cases and could not completely respect younger social workers, for whom service meant an eight-hour day and a home far from the slums," according to the Toynbee Hall model. (1986, Franklin) Addams not only worked with the impoverished, but he also took political action to establish new laws to protect them.

Addams assembled a group of very committed young women

Addams gathered a group of dedicated young women. During the Progressive Era, they were the feminine face of the democratization movement. From 1900 until the present, the United States had a surge in interest in women's emancipation, new social laws, and attention to social and racial issues. The Hull House group elevated the status of women in social service. They contributed to a more structural political focus through their neighborhood work. They began with a thorough examination of actual conditions and so contributed to subsequent social science studies. They reported on the impacts of concentration of different nationalities and their living conditions, labor conditions in sweatshops, and child labor in the Hull House maps and publications. Julia Lathrop and Florence Kelley, among others, contributed to this effort. This method of'mapping' helped to the creation of the well-known Chicago school of urban sociology, which included significant players such as George Herbert Mead and Robert E. Park. For academic researchers, Addams and her colleagues were only data collectors, but for their own aims, their study served as a tool and launching pad for social action.

Addams succeeded in establishing a specific basis for American social work

Addams was successful in establishing a distinct foundation for American social work with a strong blend of professional interventions and systematic research, which sparked international interest. Hull House attracted many guests from overseas from the beginning, and several initiatives were initiated there. Julia Lathrop later became the Children's Federal Bureau's first director (1912). She was successful in raising awareness regarding child labor and child fatalities.

Jane Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931

The strength of Jane Addams' settlement work translated into a broad social involvement in which she paired her work for Hull House with a similarly ardent participation to the peace effort during World War I. This gave her the moniker Saint Jane. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize four years before her death (1931).

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