Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860, in Freeport Illinois. Her father, who was a Quaker, a senator and a mill owner, was her greatest influence. In 1879 she attended Rockford Female seminary, at the time a pioneering college for women, where she excelled. The schools strong religious content did not stick with Addams, however she did explore spirituality and it could be assumed that the strong theme of morals in her work was influenced by this place. She graduated in 1881 as valedictorian of her class.
The years between her graduation and 1888 were spent uneasily for Addams. Her father's death in august of 1881 left her depressed and uneasy. She had a college education but she was unsure of her place in the world and its meaning. She attempted more school, but dropped out before her first year was over. Returning home, she found herself lost in the pressures of family to join society through marriage.
As an escape she traveled to Europe in 1883. Upon returning to the states Addams was sick on and off for two years, and was continually pressured to "join" society through finding a traditional female role in marriage. Addams was not satisfied with this. She once again traveled to Europe in search of clarity, this time with her college friend Ellen Gates Starr. On this trip Addams visited Toynbee Hall in London's east end. Associated with Oxford University, it was the mission of Toynbee Hall to help the poor exploited working class people of a specific neighborhood. (Deegan, 1988, p.4)
Toynbee Hall was an inspiration and model for Addams. Upon returning to the United States in 1889, Addams and Starr moved to Chicago where after a few months they moved into the "Hull House". Hull House was located in an area...