When we left Jane in part one, she and her friend Ellen Gates Starr had just opened Hull House. The Settlement movement in the US was about to take off, and in Chicago the community was embracing the work being done by Jane, Ellen and the many women like them that came to share their time and talents by settling in the impoverished, immigrant community and working together with neighbors to provide social services.
Jane worked locally in Chicago, she played a role in (the best) World’s Fair, the 1893 Columbian Exposition, and she helped to clean up the streets of her city which helped to slow illnesses (this was a novel concept in the 1890s.). The women that were attracted to work at Hull House became pioneers in their fields and worked with Jane to help create reform in child labor laws, women’s labor laws, work place safety, and prison reform. Jane herself was brought in to help end the Pullman Rail Strike that affected the entire country and was the first woman to introduce a presidential candidate at national convention.
It didn’t take Jane very long to become a popular speaker, writer and as her platform and respect grew, her voice and impact was felt far outside her Chicago neighborhood.
Jane’s companion for most of her adult life was Mary Roset Smith. Mary’s impact on all of the causes that Jane worked for wasn’t on the front lines, but in a very important role as Jane’s support system; as Jane’s family.
As World War 1 broke out, Jane turned her energies to peace. She had spent the better part of her life working to unite people from different countries, heritages, religions and social classes and to see all that torn apart on the world stage didn’t make sense. She was the head of the Women’s Peace Party in the United States and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom where Jane organized a peace conference at the Hague in the Netherlands during the war. She did make a few missteps, a few poorly phrased speeches not supporting the war, and she was labeled a radical and “the most dangerous woman in the world.”
Jane’s good name was restored during the Great Depression when her work with the poor was suddenly something that a great deal of people needed again…and all that talk of peace that had her under surveillance by the Department of Justice in the previous decade? People’s attitudes had changed and, in 1931, Jane became the second woman to earn the Nobel Peace Prize.
One year after her beloved Mary passed away, Jane Addams died on May 21, 1935 from intestinal cancer. After being memorialized at Hull House, she was buried in her hometown of Cedarville, Illinois.
Time Travel With The History Chicks
If you are headed to Chicago (or even if you’re only able to cyber travel), there are several ways to learn more about Jane’s life, but start at the source: Jane Addams Hull House Museumin Chicago. Since you’re already on Halstead street, take
a walk short trip (it’s about 8 miles) to view all the plaques on the Legacy Project tour celebrating LGBTQ contributions in history.
Speaking of LGBTQ history, here’s an article from WBEZ discussing the relationship between Jane and Mary Rozet Smith. While we’re on the subject, here is a brief history of Boston Marriages from The Frisky.
Heading away from Chicago, you might like to check out the town where Jane grew up via the Cedarville Historical Societ, head up the road a piece and take a hike down the Jane Addams Trail. Leave the Midwest and visit the place Jane went to unwind, Bar Harbor, Maine via AcadiaMagic.com or take a turn to NYC and visit the still operational Henry Street Settlement, NYC OR take a giant step and go to London to visit Toynebee Hall the first Settlement House and where Jane got her inspiration.
Life of Washington on Project Gutenberg, Vol 1 (you can find the other three there, too.) Jane’s father PAID her to read this, it helped form her life view.
There really is no shortage of books about, and by, Jane Addams–these are just some that we liked.
Adult reading level:
We have a Pinterest board for every single subject, and Jane Addams is the most recent! So many more things to see over there, THE HISTORY CHICKS PINTEREST BOARDS