Jane Addams (1860-1935) – Ten-cent stamp issued in 1940, the 80th anniversary of her birth and – unlike most stamp icons – just five years after her death

A native of Cedarville, Illinois, Jane Addams founded Hull House in Chicago’s poor, industrial west side in 1889.  As immigrants from Eastern European nations flocked to Chicago in this era, it soon became the best-known “settlement house” in the United States.  Beyond that, she was a strong advocate for internationalism, world peace, and feminist goals.

Addams and other residents of Hull House, most of them women, also laid the foundations for sociology and social work as they initiated projects to improve conditions for immigrants and other poor people. Hull House was instrumental in the Progressive Era social reforms of the early 20th century, such as the creation of the Children’s Bureau.  It also was key to the development of women’s professions, including not only nursing social work, but also public sanitation, modern economics, and labor law.

Her opposition to World War I briefly made Addams controversial, as she led some forty women to Europe in 1915, attempting to end the war.  They met with heads of state, and although they were unsuccessful, the Norwegians who award the Nobel Prize recognized the worthiness of this goal, and in 1931, they granted Addams the Nobel Peace Prize.  She was the first American woman to win and only the second woman in the world.

Jane Addams died on May 21, 1935, and tens of thousands attended her Chicago funeral.   Hull House still serves Chicagoans.

back - home - next