More than a hundred years ago, Jane Addams opened her heart and a Chicago house to the city's immigrants and dispossessed.
In September of 1889, Jane Addams, just 29 years old, opened a red house at 800 South Halsted Street in Chicago as a place of refuge for the new immigrants to the blighted neighborhood. That home, pictured today in a Google doodle that celebrates Ms. Addams, would become the tangible epicenter of Addams’s work and her vision for a fairer, more peaceful world.
Addams, who is credited in the New York Times 1935 obituary for her work in developing “a scientific approach to the relief of poverty and suffering,” is difficult to categorize. That’s perhaps due to the sheer number of titles that have been given to her – feminist; social activist; internationalist; philosopher; author; and sociologist.
Addams was born to Quaker parents in Cedarville, Illinois on Sept. 6, 1860. Her father, a miller, was a former congressman and friend to Abraham Lincoln, and Addams would later credit the belief both men had in the equality of man as underpinning her own hope for the equality of all people, women included.
Addams, an 1881 graduate of Rockford College for Women, moved with Ellen Gates Starr (the two were a couple) to Chicago in 1889. There, she founded Hull House and began receiving Chicago’s new immigrants from all around the world into the home.