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Hull House is a settlement house in the United States that was co-founded in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. Located in the Near West Side of Chicago, Illinois, Hull House opened its doors to the recently arrived European immigrants. By 1911, Hull House had grown to 13 buildings. In 1912 the Hull House complex was completed with the addition of a summer camp, the Bowen Country Club. With its innovative social, educational, and artistic programs, Hull House became the standard bearer for the movement that had grown, by 1920, to almost 500 settlement houses nationally.
Jane Addams was a pioneer settlement worker, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and leader in woman suffrage and world peace. Beside presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, she was the most prominent reformer of the Progressive Era and helped turn the nation to issues of concern to mothers, such as the needs of children, public health, and world peace. In 1931 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
While on a trip to East London in 1883, Jane Addams witnessed a distressing scene late one night: masses of poor people were bidding on rotten vegetables that were unsalable anywhere else. <P> <P> Their pale faces were dominated by that most unlovely of human expressions, the cunning and shrewdness of the bargain-hunter who starves if he cannot make a successful trade, and yet the final impression was not of ragged, tawdry clothing nor of pinched and sallow faces, but of myriads of hands, empty, pathetic, nerveless, and workworn, showing white in the uncertain light of the street, and clutching forward for food which was already unfit to eat. <P> <P> This scene haunted Addams for the next two years as she traveled through Europe, and she hoped to find a way to ease such suffering. Five years later, she visited Toynbee Hall, a London settlement house, and resolved to replicate the experiment in the U.S. On September 18, 1889, Jane Addams and her friend Ellen Starr moved into the second floor of a rundown mansion in Chicago's West Side. From the outset, they imagined Hull-House as a "center for a higher civic and social life" in the industrial districts of the city. Addams, Starr, and several like-minded individuals lived and worked among the poor, establishing (among other things) art classes, discussion groups, cooperatives, a kindergarten, a coffee house, a lending library, and a gymnasium. In a time when many well-to-do Americans were beginning to feel threatened by immigrants, Hull-House embraced them, showed them the true meaning of democracy, and served as a center for philanthropic efforts throughout Chicago. <P> <P> Hull-House also provided an outlet for the energies of the first generation of female college graduates, who were educated for work yet prevented from doing it. In some respects, however, Addams's impressive work, often hailed by historians as "revolutionary," was nothing of the sort. She embraced the sexual stereotypes of her day, and, though she was clearly an independent woman, soothed public fears by acting primarily in the traditional roles of nurturer and caregiver. Hull-House was a rousing success, and it inspired others to follow in Addams's footsteps. Though Twenty Years at Hull-House is meant to be an autobiography, it is Hull-House itself that stands in the spotlight. Addams devotes the first third of the book to her upbringing and influences, but the remainder focuses on the organization she built--and the benefits accruing to those who work with the poor as well as to the poor themselves. At times Addams's prose is difficult to follow, but her ideals and her actions are truly inspiring. A classic work of history--and a model for today's would-be philanthropists. --Sunny Delaney
In 1889, while many Americans were disdainful of newly arrived immigrants, Jane Addams established Hull-House as a refuge for Chicago's poor. The settlement house provided an unprecedented variety of social services. In this inspiring autobiography, Addams chronicles the institution's early years and discusses the ever-relevant philosophy of social justice that served as its foundation.Addams, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 for her philanthropic work, explains her motives for creating the institution and outlines its main activities. She also discusses many of her beliefs, including the need for commitment of federal agencies to services for immigrants, as well as socialized education. Filled with observations on everyday life, accounts of practical action, and prescriptions for public policy, Twenty Years at Hull-House remains a rich source of provocative social theory. This edition of Addams's classic of American intellectual and social history features more than 50 illustrations.
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