Laura Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860, in Cedarville, Illinois to an English-American family that already took care of seven other children. Her mother passed away when she was but a two-year-old, leaving Addams in the hands of her elder siblings. In the care of her sisters, Addams spent her childhood reading and playing until she was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the spine. The illness changed her life since it hindered her ability to act as a normal child. Instead of making friends her age, Addams focused her attention on her father, developing a close bond with him.
Jane Addams grew up amongst many siblings, but with no motherly figure to speak of, given her mother’s untimely death. She did, however, forge a strong relationship with her father, who would become a key figure in her development as a person. A friend of American president Abraham Lincoln, her father served as Illinois State Senator from 1855 to 1870. Addams grew up around politicians, feeding her ambitions to make a real change in the world.
She also loved reading, and soon came across writers such as Charles Dickens, who focused on the plight of the poor. Reading such novels created a sense of empathy within her, leading Addams to choose to become a doctor so that she could assist the underprivileged with their ailments and illnesses.
Addams studied at the Rockford Female Seminary and graduated with a collegiate certificate in 1881. Her education was eventually interrupted by her ill health and the sudden demise of her father. Little did Addams know, fate had something great in store for her. At the age of 27, she visited Europe, coming across a settlement house. This gave her the idea to open up a settlement house of her own in Chicago — a dream that became a reality in 1889. The settlement house served the purpose of catering to the needy and providing them with the necessities required to live a life with dignity. This philanthropic venture solidified Addams as an icon of selflessness and commitment to the needy.
She opens the Hull House.
Addams publishes her “Newer Ideals of Peace.”
Addams publishes a book called "A New Conscience and Ancient Evil."
Addams starts the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
Why We Love Jane Addams
She was different
We love Jane Addams because she managed to stand out at a time when women were taught to be invisible. She was different from the women around her and persisted in fighting for basic human rights.
She was a courageous lady
Addams was a rebellious and courageous woman who fought against society and insisted on providing people with the rights they deserve. She was loved and admired by all.
She was a good writer
Addams was an activist by heart, but she wrote well too. Hence, she was able to write many astounding books in her lifetime.
5 Surprising Facts
The path of life
Addams rejected marriage and children to better utilize her time helping society.
Addams wrote 20 books.
She wrote several papers for the American Sociological Society.
She helped the poor but was born into a very rich family.
She was the second woman to receive the prize, after Marie Curie.
Jane Addams FAQs
Who was Jane Addams and what did she create?
She was a progressive social reformer and activist.
Why did Jane Addams get the Nobel Peace Prize?
She was awarded the prize for her efforts in promoting peace.
What settlement house was founded by Jane Addams?
Jane Addams founded the Hull House.
Jane Addams’s birthday dates