Jane Addams and Hull House Born in Cedarville, Illinois, on September 6, 1860, Jane Addams founded the world famous social settlement of Hull House. From Hull House, where she lived and worked from it’s start in 1889 to her death in 1935, Jane Addams built her reputation as the country’s most prominent women through her writings, settlement work and international efforts for world peace. In 1931, she became the first women to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Addams, whose father was an Illinois state senator and friend of Abraham Lincoln, graduated in 1881 from Rockford College (then called Rockford Women’s Seminary).
She returned the following year to receive one of the school’s first bachelor’s degrees. With limited career opportunities for women, she began searching for ways to help others and solve the country’s growing social problems. In 1888, Addams and her college friend, Ellen Gates Starr, visited Toynbee Hall, the two women observed college-educated Englishmen “settling” in desperately poor East London slum where they helped the people. This gave her the idea for Hull House.
In the years from 1860 through 1890, the prospect of a better life attracted nearly ten million immigrants who settled in cities around the United States. The growing number of industries produced demands for thousands of new workers and immigrants were seeking more economic opportunities. Most immigrants settled near each other’s own nationality and / or original village when in America. They could speak their own language and act as if they were in their own country. Within these neighborhoods, immigrants suffered crowded conditions. These were often called slums, yet they became ghettos when laws, prejudice and community pressure prevented inhabitants from renting elsewhere.
... to Hull House. Immigrants would come and talk with Jane and Ellen because they could speak their own language. There was one Italian woman who ... encyclopedia. Grolier Electronic Publishing Co. Addams, Jane. (1991). World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago, IL. World Book Publishing Co Hull House. (1991). World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago ...
Health conditions were terrible in these districts. Typhoid fever, smallpox and diphtheria were some of the diseases that ravaged the slums. Many children suffered from juvenile diseases such as whooping cough, measles and scarlet fever. The infant morality rate was very high. Along with immigrants, blacks suffered greatly as well.
Immigrants couldn’t afford better housing, but blacks were trapped in segregated areas. Blacks were driven out of skilled trades and were excluded from many factories. Racist’s whites used high rents and there was enormous pressure to exclude blacks from areas inhabited by whites. To help the urban poor, many middle-class reformers sought solutions for relieving poverty. Many reformers at this time such as Jacob Riis focused on the poor and immigrants moral improvements and ignored the crippling impact of low wages and dangerous working conditions.
Organizations expelled immigrants from drinking and other forbidden behaviors such as prostitution and gambling. What these reformers didn’t understand was that the conditions that immigrants faced, led them to act these ways. Jane Addams realized this. Addams developed a new weapon against poverty: the settlement houses. Addams toured in Europe in 1883 and was impressed by Toynbee Hall, which was a charity workers’ residence situated deep in a London slum. When Addams returned to Chicago in 1889, they purchased and refurnished Charles J.
Hull’s mansion and opened the Hull House, in a settlement approach. In 1892, Addams delivered a speech in a lecture to the Ethnic Cultural Societies about the settlement housing. These societies probably had political connections to human rights issues. The speech is called The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements, and its main points were to give the immigrants and underprivileged the same opportunities as the rest of the population. Addams states, ” This paper is an attempt to…
analyze the motives which underlie a movement based not only upon conviction, but genuine emotion.” (Addams, 1910) She does not aid the poor and foreign born because it is right or wrong, but because they are humans just like herself. In The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements, Addams presents three main reasons for settlement houses. She states,” … the first contains the desire to make the entire organism democratic… the second is to share the race life, third springs from a certain renaissance of Christianity.” (Women’s History, 2) Although America held a democratic ideal, democracy had made little attempt in social affairs. Addams believed in equal opportunity for all citizens of the United States.
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She felt there should be fairness and justice in society. She states, We consciously followed the gift of the ballot hard upon the gift of freedom of the Negro, but we are quite unmoved by the fact that he live among us in a practical social ostracism. We hasten to give the franchise to the immigrant from a sense of justice, from a tradition that he ought to have it, while we dub him with epithet deriding his past life or present occupation and feel no duty to invite him to out houses. (Women’s History, 1) Immigrants and blacks were suffering with poor living and social conditions and yet nobody was doing anything to remedy these problems. The people that had money and could do something about it lived in other parts of the city.
Libraries, clubhouses and any social life were blocks away. Addams believes that schooling was very important for the young people, yet many children were not receiving teaching after age twelve. Addams felt that all people should have the same opportunities to better their things in their life. She states that teaching in settlements,” the teacher will grapple his students, not only by formal lectures, but by every hood possible to the fuller intellectual life which he represents.” (Women’s History, 3) In settlement houses, people would receive an education that will apply to the future.
The second reason Addams gives for the necessity of social settlements is ” the great desire to share the race life and to bring as much social energy and the accumulation of civilization of those portions of the rave which have little… .” (Women’s History, 1) Most blacks and immigrants at this time did not have the same opportunities as whites. She started the settlement houses because there should be care for all human beings as individuals. Addams believes that all young children and adults are the future of America and there should be equal opportunities to all.
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Many young lives were suffering in a land of opportunity but there weren’t opportunities for them. At the Hull House, Addams’ top priority was getting to know the new coming immigrants. She brought them to plays and sponsored many art projects. There were classes held in English, such as civics and cooking. When she was disturbed by all the neighborhood poverty, Addams set up a kindergarten, a laundry and a day care for working mothers.
Hull House also sponsored recreational and athletic programs and gave legal aid and health care for those who were in need. The third motive for the settlement houses is the biblical principals of Christianity. She writes, “The impulse to share the lives of the poor, the desire to make social service, irrespective of propaganda, express the spirit of Christ, is old as Christianity itself.” (Addams, 1910) Before the settlement houses began, there was a Social Gospel movement. Led by Washington Gladden and Walter Rauschenbusch, they were dismayed by the way many middle-class churchgoers ignored the plight of urban slum and poverty. Gladden insisted that true Christianity commits men and women to fight social injustice head on, to whomever or wherever it exists.
The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements was a report on what was done to get the settlement houses, why it was done and why settlement houses work. Its basic principle was to treat everyone as individual human beings. Social settlements are based on a democratic society in which all races and cultures are created equally. It is also a Christian movement towards Humanitarianism. This period of time was the Progressive Era, as many reform groups and liberally minded individuals gathered to solve problems.
Jane Addams was a great reformer of this time. Addams’s settlement houses aided the poor and immigrants and prepared them for the future. By 1895, at least fifty settlement houses had opened in cities around America. Settlements trained a generation of young college students, many who served as state and local government officials. Florence Kelley, who had worked in the Hull House in 1893, became the chief factory inspector in Illinois.
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Many settlement house veterans later would draw on their experience and played an influential role in the movements of the Progressive Era. Through sympathetic attitudes towards the immigrants and underprivileged, settlement houses gave Americans new hope that the cities problems would be overcome. Addams states, .” … it obtains wherever educated young people are seeking an outlet for that sentiment of universal brotherhood which the best spirit of our times is forcing from an emotion into a motive.” (Women’s History, 2) The Creation of Hull House allowed for a closer and more understanding relationship between the settlement workers themselves and the immigrants and the poor. Jane knew as a little child that she wanted to help the poor and she recalls an incident early in her life of seeing a homeless man on the street. She asked her father why that was, and he replied that that was just the way things were.
From that day forward, Jane knew that something had to be done. She was an amazing women and loved being able to help the less fortunate. Works Cited Addams, Jane, Twenty Years at Hull House, New York, Macmillan, 1910. Women’s History website #1.
Women of Hull House < web Htm>. Women’s History Website #2. Jane Addams-Bibliographies. < web. htm>. Women’s History Website #3.