SEPTEMBER 6, 1860–MAY 21, 1935
Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois, in 1860. She was one of the most prominent social reformers in United States history.
In 1889, Addams and her partner Ellen Gates Starr cofounded Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago. A settlement house was a place in a low-income neighborhood in which middle and upper-class people lived. Hull House was designed to help people get out of poverty by giving them opportunities to develop new skills. Working-class people could go there for many different resources, such as childcare, technical training, and classes in art and history. Most of the people who went to Hull House were new European immigrants who had difficulty finding jobs or fair wages because of prejudice against their ethnicities. Addams and other residents of Hull House fought for workers’ rights, laws against child labor, and votes for women, among many other things.
Along with being the cofounder of Hull House, Addams was also a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, a legal activism group still fighting for equal rights today. A notable peace activist, in 1931 she became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She died in 1935 at age 74.
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