Jane Addams

On this date in 1860, Jane Addams was born, the eighth child of a prosperous family in Cedarville, Illinois. Her mother died when Jane was three. Her father, Quaker by conviction but not affiliation, served for many years in the state Senate. At 17, Jane went to Rockford Seminary, intending to pursue a medical career. Her father's death and her own health problems changed her plans. She and classmate Ellen Gate Starr opened a settlement home in Chicago in 1889, expanding services for poor working class to include a girls' home, nursery and other amenities. Hull House was secular by Addams' decree. Addams documented social conditions, worked with reformers and radicals of every stripe, and wrote articles on everything from suffrage to prostitution. She co-founded the Woman's Peace Party in 1915 and was elected national chair. It eventually became the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Addams won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Although she credited Jesus in her address, "A Challenge to the Contemporary Church," she denounced the church fathers very firmly in it: "The very word woman in the writings of the church fathers stood for the basest temptations. . . ." D. 1935.

“A wise man has told us that 'men are once for all so made that they prefer a rational world to believe in and live in' . . .”

—Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House (pp. 448-450)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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