Born during the Victorian Era, Jane Addams could have spent her days, like many women of the time, entertaining friends and attending parties. As the daughter of a prosperous miller, she certainly did not have to work. But Jane had other ideas. She wanted to make a difference. Find out how she did it.
- Jane was born in Cedarville, Illinois in 1860. She was the eighth child in a family of nine children. Her father was a successful businessman and politician. He was a close friend of Abraham Lincoln.
- Jane had a spinal deformity that left her weak, but not helpless. She graduated as valedictorian from the Rockford Female Seminary. She attended medical school, but left because of poor health.
- She traveled through Europe and wondered what to do with her life. While there, she visited a settlement house (a home for the poor) in London. That visit sparked an idea.
- With her friend, Ellen Starr, Jane leased a large home in Chicago’s industrial neighborhood. The home became a community center for the needy. Jane was determined to offer education, health care, and opportunity. The home was expanded to include a kindergarten, school programs, and clubs and classes for adults. It had a kitchen, coffee house, art studio, music school, gymnasium, swimming pool, book bindery, library, and an employment bureau where people could go for a job.
- Jane didn’t stop there. She began investigating health issues, including care for pregnant women, drug abuse, and the safety and cleanliness of the milk supply. She accepted a position as garbage inspector.
- Jane received an honorary degree from Yale and the Nobel Peace Prize. She was a staunch feminist. She strongly protested America’s involvement in World War I, an act that brought her public criticism.
- During the war, she organized food and relief supplies for women and children in enemy countries.
- In her later years, her health limited her work. She died in 1935.
Watch a video featuring a picture book about Jane Addams.
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Declan, Tobin. " Jane Addams Facts for Kids ." Easy Science for Kids, Oct 2019. Web. 23 Oct 2019. < https://easyscienceforkids.com/jane-addams/ >.
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