An Illinois senator’s daughter, Jane Addams was a 27 year old medical school dropout when she and a friend, Ellen Starr, decided to travel around Europe. Both were feminists dedicated to social activism, particularly global peace, the eradication of world poverty and the improvement of the status of women everywhere. It wasn’t until the pair visited Toynbee Hall in East London, a charity focusing assistance to the poor and marginalised, did Jane realise she had found her calling.

It took two years and all her inheritance money. At the venerable age of 29, Jane, along with Ellen, was the proud tenant of an old Chicago mansion called Hull House. Her dream had come true: a settlement house for the immigrant workers and their families who lived in that run-down corner of Chicago. There was child care for infants and toddlers, a kindergarten classroom for the preschool children and occupational training for those leaving school. The first thing Jane added to the house was an art gallery. Performing and visual arts were always important at Hull House. A kitchen, library and employment bureau followed as funds were raised for the construction of additional buildings to increase space.

Thousands upon thousands of immigrants used the services offered at Hull House to adapt to life in their new country. Jane resided in Hull House until her death. Her funeral service was held in its courtyard.

In December of 1931, Jane Addams was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

September 6th is the 155th anniversary of the birth of Jane Addams.

Image Credit: Jane Addams House- Peter Sekaer