THE FAMILY CLAIM AND THE
THE DOORS OF HULL-HOUSE OPENED on September 18, 1889.
Jane Addams had spent winter, spring, and summer 1889 in Chicago gathering money, paying social dues, garnering political support, and holding fast to her "scheme." Ellen Gates Starr, to whom she had first revealed the plan during their trip in Europe, 1887-1888, joined her, as did a housekeeper, Mary Keyser, when they took up residence at 335 (later, 800) Halsted Street, destined to become the most famous address in Chicago. In the quiet of the night before her open doors became a reality, Jane Addams no doubt mused on what had brought her to that moment. Convinced as she was that an old order was dying and a new one was struggling to be born, she aimed to contribute to the new by preserving the best of the old and creatively mixing the two.
The passing of an old way of life does not necessarily entail its obliteration, she insisted. Her sense of cultural renewal and moral evolution called for social amelioration, not violent upheaval. No responsible social reformer aims to wipe out all that has gone before. To the contrary, the basis of all progress, she writes, is to revere rather than to revile the best of the past. Addams hoped that "our American civilization might be built without disturbing these foundations [the examples of great civic heroes] which were laid of the old time." 1 The past haunts the present and works itself into its interstices. So it is that the modern woman carries forward in her own way the age-old story of woman as