Laura Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois, the eighth of nine children on September 6, 1860. Her father was a prosperous miller and local political leader who had moved West from Pennsylvania for better prospects. He served for sixteen years as a state senator and as an early supporter of Illinois State Senator Abraham Lincoln, the two became close friends, and Addams enlisted in the US Army as an officer in the War Between the States.
As for Jane, in 1881, she graduated from the Rockford Female Seminary and was the valedictorian of a class of seventeen. As the school was in still in the process of accreditation, her bachelor’s degree was deferred until it officially could award Bachelor of Arts as Rockford College for Women. It was also at Rockford Jane met Ellen Gates Starr (March 19, 1959), though the latter was forced to leave Rockford Seminary because her family could no longer afford it.
In the course of the next six years, Jane studied medicine, but her poor health stalled those ambitions, and took the Grand Tour to Europe for further education and enlightenment, a common finishing tactic for young people of wealth. She continued her correspondence with Miss Starr back home, who was teaching at Miss Kirkland’s School, where one of her students was Mary Rozet Smith (December 23, 1868), who later became Jane’s lifelong companion.
After much discussion, Jane returned to Europe with Ellen for a second Grand Tour, and it was then that two realized their life goal: the creation of a settlement house in Chicago, similar to Toynbee Hall, in London’s East End. While Jane would continue working there for the rest of her life, Ellen took a more spiritual path for her work, joining the Catholic Church and working as a novitiate within it for social justice.
In 1889 the two leased a large home built by the architect Charles Hull at the corner of Halsted and Polk Streets in Chicago, to provide a center for a higher civic and social life and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago.To support their dream, the two made speeches, stumped around Chicago, raising money and convincing young ladies of well-to-do families to help: providing daycare for working women, nursing the sick, and listening to the problems of their constituents.
By its second year, Hull-House was host to two thousand people every week with kindergarten classes in the morning, club meetings for older children in the afternoon, and a night school to teach adults reading and writing.
World War One & the Nobel
Miss Addams was attacked in the press and expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution because of her stance against President Woodrow Wilson and joining World War I and became an assistant to Iowan Herbert Hoover by providing relief supplies of food to the women and children of US enemy nations, which she wrote in her other book, Peace and Bread in Time of War (1922).
On December 10, 1931, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. In February 1934, Mary died and a year later, on May 21, 1935, Jane herself died from cancer. They buried both at Hull House.
Miss Starr died February 1940 and is buried in Suffern, Rockland Co., a suburb of New York City.
Her books include:
- Addams, Jane. An extensive collection of Miss Addams’ papers is at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
- …Democracy and Social Ethics. New York, Macmillan, 1902.
- … Newer Ideals of Peace. New York, Macmillan, 1907.
- …The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets. New York, Macmillan, 1909.
- … Twenty Years at Hull-House: With Autobiographical Notes. New York Macmillan, 1910.
- … The Long Road of Woman’s Memory. New York, Macmillan, 1916.
- … Peace and Bread in Time of War. New York, Macmillan, 1922.
- …The Second Twenty Years at Hull-House: September 1909 to September 1929. New York, Macmillan, 1930.
- …The Excellent Becomes the Permanent. New York, Macmillan, 1932.
- Addams, Jane, A Centennial Reader,
- Ed. by E. C. Johnson, with a prefatory note on Jane Addams’ life by W. L. Neumann and an introduction by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. New York, Macmillan, 1960.
This is Jane’s chart, as M.E. Jones lists it in his Sabian Symbols book. The id is J for Jones and 09 for the ninth item in the listing of 1000 nativities. It is unrectified.