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The autobiography, written by Jane Addams, combines personal, candid stories with progressive philosophy. She writes about her experiences and the people she encountered in Chicago's Nineteenth Ward. It went through six printings, was translated into French, German, and Japanese, and has been excerpted in history texts and literature anthologies. It became a bestseller and added Jane Addams to the list of popular icons. It became a sensation in 1910, when Jane Addams was made a household name and featured in movies. She also went on radio and became a national hero.
Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois, and became interested in the plight of poor people as she read Dickens' novels. She also had a kindly mother who helped the people in the town. Her father, John Huy Addams, became a Republican politician and served eight terms as an Illinois state senator. He had become a devoted supporter of women's rights and education and was a friend of Abraham Lincoln.
In the early twentieth century, Jane Addams became involved in the peace movement. In 1915, she attended a conference with women from warring nations. She continued her pacifist stance and helped form the Women's Peace Party. This group would eventually become the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. In 1919, Addams was named the first president of the WILPF. She died in Chicago on May 21, 1935. She is buried at Cedarville.
After retirement from her professional career, Addams remained active in Chicago's political life. She began working as a garbage inspector and served on a commission to investigate the county poor house. She also worked to start the Juvenile Protective Association. She also became an activist, fighting against corrupt alderman John Powers and becoming the first female president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. And she never quit her political activism!
After college, Addams attended Rockford Female Seminary, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. She later graduated from Rockford College for Women, and subsequently devoted herself to the public good. After spending four years in Philadelphia, she traveled throughout Europe, where she met with working women and visited Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in London's East End. The experience helped inspire her to start Hull House in Chicago.
After graduation, Jane was keen to do something else than stay home and care for the children. She viewed domestic life as a waste of her skills and knowledge. She considered traveling, furthering her education, and building a career, but ultimately decided to pursue a career in medicine. And so her life was transformed. The result: the birth of the famous Settlement Home in Chicago. But after the death of her father, Jane continued to seek purpose for herself and her life.
A decade later, Addams lost her purpose and lapsed into a period of soul-searching. She also suffered from sporadic health issues. During this period, she visited Toynbee Hall in London, which provided work for impoverished Londoners. From there, she developed a plan for a social settlement in the United States. The Chicago settlement house was founded to serve as her model.
A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil is Jane Addams' first book, and it emphasizes social equality, civic virtue, and industrial amelioration. Addams' concepts reflect her worldview. She admired Abraham Lincoln and her father, and she advocated for gender equality for women. In addition to her work with the Hull-House community, she was also active in the fight against racial and political corruption. She co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and was also active in educating women about issues of social injustice.
In 1889, Addams founded a settlement house in Chicago. The Hull House program provided aid to working-class families in the area. It is now called the Hull House. Although Addams was born into a wealthy family, she was one of the few women of her generation to complete college. Her work in promoting social justice and peace in the United States was exemplary, and she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
In addition to her work for social justice, she served on the Board of Education of Chicago, where she chaired the School Management Committee. She became active in the women's suffrage movement as an officer of the National American Women's Suffrage Association and a pro-suffrage columnist. She was also a founder of the NAACP, which continues to fight racial discrimination today.
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