Today In History: Jane Addams Is Born

Today In History: Jane Addams Is Born


A significant leader in the history of social work and women's suffrage in the United States, Jane Addams was born September 6th, 1860 in Cedarville, Illinois. She was the eighth of nine children and daughter of John H.Addams, a wealthy miller who was not only a local politician, but a Civil War officer, friend to Abraham Lincoln, and long time state senator.  Her mother died when she was an infant, and with a broken family, her own physical health was poor. Despite these difficulties, Addams had a strong sense of family which fueled her passion for social good. As an activist and social reformer, Jane Addams set the model for the Settlement House Movement in the United States after she travelled to Europe, learned of practices in England, and successfully set her ideas in motion.

Addams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 for her contributions to social service, in which she,  together with Ellen Gates Starr in 1889, founded Hull House,  a settlement located at the corner of Polk and Halsted streets on Near West Side of Chicago. A mansion originally built by real estate developer Charles Hull, the property was left to his cousin, Helen Culver, who leased it to Jane Addams and eventually left it to her. Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr opened their home to thousands of newly arrived immigrants, meeting their basic needs (housing, food, clothing, and healthcare) while to helping them become assimilated with American society through classes in English, civics, and more.

Social Services at Hull House included legal aid, an employment office, childcare, and -- similar to the early curriculum at Teachers College, Columbia University, whose roots date back to the Kitchen Garden Association and philanthropist founder Grace Hoadley Dodge, training in domestic skills and crafting. Addams was influential in passing critical legislation and establishing public policy on public health and education, free speech, fair labor practices, immigrants’ rights, recreation and public space, arts, and philanthropy.  

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.





The Hull House, Chicago (front), Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Poster Image: Jane Addams, Courtesy of Library of Congress

Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check additional Cafe News postings on the library blog.


  • Learning at the Library
  • News Cafe
Back to skip to quick links