Jane was a very quiet and
thoughtful child. When she
was seven her father married
Anna H. Haldeman. Her new
stepmother encouraged Jane
in her studies and her father,
an avid reader, encouraged
Jane to read. Jane enrolled in
Rockford Female Seminary
in 1877. She graduated at the
head of her class, receiving
her degree in 1882.
Jane traveled widely with
her stepmother and her
friend Ellen Gates Starr.
During her travels Jane
encountered firsthand the
hardships of the poor. She
saw poor people looking through garbage cans for food and
witnessed the terrible conditions in which they lived. While in
London, Jane visited the Toynbee Hall, a settlement house for
the poor. Toynbee Hall was opened in 1884 by students at Ox-ford
University to help the poor. Jane took the settlement house
idea back to Illinois and Chicago.
“When we came to Chicago, we had no definite idea
what we were going to do.” Addams wrote in her autobiogra-phy,
“we hoped that by living among the people we could learn
what was needed.” In 1889, Addams and Starr moved into a
house in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago. With
their own money, the two operated Hull House, named after the
original owner. Hull House was a place where the poor and
disadvantaged people of the area to could live, receive food and
an education, and participate in many social activities. Hull
House also had a kindergarten, daycare, music school, theater,
boardinghouse, art gallery, library, and gymnasium. It quickly
became the center of the community.
Many different kinds of people gathered together at Hull
House: the poor and the wealthy, immigrants of many nationali-ties,
African Americans, and other minorities. Many of
Addams’s upper-class friends lived and worked at Hull House,
Jane with her step-mother,
Haldeman, and her
avid—eager or en-thusiastic
community home for
the poor and disad-vantaged.
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