Happy Birthday, Jane Addams. Addams was recognized around the world as a person who dedicated her life to social justice. In 1931, Addams was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Addams may well be best known for starting Hull House in Chicago. Here is the current mission statement of Hull House:
Jane Addams Hull House Association improves social conditions for underserved people and communities by providing creative, innovative programs and advocating for related public policy reforms.
Jane Addams Hull House Association provides child care, domestic violence counseling and prevention, economic development, family services, job training, literacy training, senior services, foster care, independent living, and housing assistance for 60,000 children, families and community members each year in communities in and around Chicago.
Hull House also advocates for social and public policy reforms and initiatives that impact the lives of the men, women, and children in the communities we serve.
Yes, Addams would be much despised by many of today’s Republicans. All of that social work nonsense, helping the poor and marginalized. One can actually visualize Eric Cantor and John Boehner spitting at our Jane. Empathy and caring for our communities seems to have gone out of vogue–the legacy of Ronald Reagan made viciously cruel and real by the Teahaddists. The fact that Hull House has a Center for Civil Society would seem to run contrary to the philosophy of this current crop of Republican Presidential candidates who deride the poor and sign pledges to discriminate against and scapegoat those in the LGBT community.
As the reputation of Addams and Hull House became well renowned across the country, Addams was recruited to Chicago’s Board of Education in 1905. In 1909, Addams became the President of National Conference of Charities and Corrections. Unfortunately, the National Conference of Charities and Corrections no longer exists; it died in 1917 with the Great War. In 1917, the National Conference on Social Welfare was formed and would later become National Association of Social Workers in 1985.
Although the word feminist did not exist at the turn of the 20th Century, our Addams certainly embodied the principles of a modern feminist. Addams was a suffragist and believed that women should control their own destinies–my what a novel idea! She was also a well known pacifist and served as the President of the International League for Peace and Freedom until 1929. I can’t even imagine any of our current political leaders being a part of the International League for Peace and Freedom without being called “unpatriotic”–how sad. Big shock that Addams was expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) for her pacifist ideals and her very vocal and public opposition to the war. I am grateful for the work accomplished by Addams and hope that I and many others will take inspiration to make the world a better place for ALL!
The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life–Jane Addams