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Jane Addams
 Ceramic Sculpture   
12" x 8" x8"

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Jane Addams (1860-1935)

Addams was born in Illinois to a prosperous family. Her childhood was marred by her mother's death when she was two years old and her struggle with tuberculosis of the spine. Jane could not run and play with other children so she became a voracious reader. After reading Dickens and hearing stories of her mother's charity to the poor Jane desired to become a doctor and live and work in the poorest communities.

Her father encouraged her to seek higher education, if it was close to home. She wanted to go to Smith College, but to honor her father's wishes she attended local Rockford University. Jane went on to the medical school in philadelphia, but constant pain from her spine forced her to withdraw after her first year. She set off for a two year journey through Europe and it was there she realized she did not have to become a doctor to help the poor.

In 1887 she read a magazine article about the fist settlement house in London: Toynbee Hall. Settlement houses were a new idea in the 1880s. Their goal was to get rich and poor to live together in houses located in poor urban areas. Middle class volunteer settlement workers would relocate to the house and share their knowledge and culture with the poorest in society. These houses provided day care, medical care, and education to improve the lives of the poor. Addams traveled to London to visit Toynbee House and was transfixed by it.

In 1889 Addams co-founded Hull House, the first settlement house in the United States in Chicago, Illinois. Paying for the necessary upgrades to the building herself, Addams took up residence in Hull House and started a night school for adults, kindergarten classes, a public kitchen, and art gallery, coffee house, music school, book bindery, library, and drama club. Eventually two thousand people each week came to observe at Hull House. By 1913 there were 413 settlement houses in the United States.

Addams turned her attention to the international peace movement and in 1915 became the president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). In 1931 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and donated her prize money to WILPF.