ADDAMS, JANE (6 September 1860, Cedarville, IA–21 May 1935, Chicago).
A settlement house founder, social philosopher, and peace advocate, Addams established herself as a leading social reformer in the United States during the early twentieth century. The best-known woman of her day, she played a dominant role in a network of prominent women activists who surrounded Eleanor Roosevelt. The lives of the two women intersected in both reform and peace movements.*
An 1881 graduate of Rockford Female Seminary in Rockford, Illinois, Addams dropped out of medical school in Philadelphia the following year due to poor health. After travel in Europe, where she observed the new settlement house movement to help the poor in London, she and a Rockford classmate, Ellen Gates Starr, opened Hull House in Chicago in 1889. The center of clubs, services, and facilities in an overcrowded neighborhood, it provided the opportunity for wealthy, educated young people to live in the midst of the city’s growing immigrant population, attempting to ameliorate poverty, aid in assimilation, and publicize in-human conditions brought by industrialization.
Due to Addams’ talents as a leader, Hull House, although not the first of the social settlements* in the United States, became a model for similar institutions. One was the College Settlement on Rivington Street in New York’s Lower East Side, also opened in 1889, where ER taught calisthenics and dancing before her marriage.
A prolific writer and speaker, Addams played a leading role in progressive causes. In 1903 she helped found the Women’s Trade Union League,* which ER joined in 1922. Addams campaigned vigorously for ER’s uncle, Theodore Roosevelt,* in his unsuccessful presidential bid on