Women’s History Month: Profile: Jane Addams

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-114184752311841.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of C.C. Catt Albums, Bryn Mawr College Library’, ”);

Jane Addams (1860-1935), an 1881 valedictorian of Rockford Female Seminary (now Rockford College) and founder of Hull House in Chicago, in 1931 became the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1889, Addams and her friend Ellen Gates Starr leased a Chicago home built by Charles Hull at the corner of Halsted and Polk streets. The two friends opened the house as Hull House, one of the first “settlement” houses in the United States. During its peak, Hull House served around 2,000 people a week.

Among Hull House’s facilities were, as listed on Wikipedia, “a night school for adults; kindergarten classes; clubs for older children; a public kitchen; an art gallery; a coffeehouse; a gymnasium; a girls’ club; a swimming pool; a book bindery; a music school; a drama group; a library; and labor-related divisions.”

In addition to her work with Hull House, Addams was also a founding member of both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Addams was born in Cedarville, Ill., about 35 miles northwest of Rockford, where she is buried in a hillside cemetery on Mill Street. The Cedarville Historical Museum, 450 W. Second St., features a permanent exhibit honoring Addams. For more information about these attractions, contact the Museum at 815/563-4485 or the Freeport/Stephenson County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-369-2955.

From the March 8-14, 2006, issue

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