Jane Addams attracted national attention when, with with her friend Ellen G. Starr, she founded Chicago’s Hull House in 1889. The facility was located on the city’s near west side, in a densely urban neighborhood populated primarily by struggling immigrants. Modeled after the settlement houses in London, the mission of Hull House was to assist immigrants by providing a center for a civic and social life, improve the quality of education, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago.
Hull House provided kindergarten and day care facilities for the children of working mothers; an employment bureau; an art gallery; libraries; English and citizenship classes; and theater, music and art classes. By virtue of its efforts, the Illinois Legislature enacted protective legislation for women and children, setting the stage for passage of a Federal child labor law in 1916. As her notoriety grew, Addams was appointed to Chicago’s Board of Education, helped to found the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, and led investigations on midwifery, narcotics consumption, milk supplies, and sanitary conditions in Chicago. Yet despite her laudable work, when Addams opposed the country’s entry into World War One, she was branded a traitor by the press and expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution. Fortunately, history treated Addams with more respect; fourteen years later she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work and pacifist ideals.
Of the 13 buildings that once comprised the Hull House complex, only the original home and adjacent dining hall escaped the wrecking ball when a six square block area was razed to make way for the Continue reading