Jane Addams Twenty Years at Hull-House

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Twenty Years at Hull-House

By Jane Addams

Jane Addams was from a large wealthy family in the small town of Cedarville, Illinois. She was born in 1860, the fifth surviving child of eight. Her mother and sibling died during childbirth when Jane was two years old. Her father, John Addams, was a Quaker, a prosperous sawmill owner, and a state senator for sixteen years. He was a staunch supporter and friend of Abraham Lincoln. He encouraged education, sending his daughters to boarding school and impressed Jane with the virtues of merit, tolerance and a strong work ethic. These virtues were the foundation she built her life on.

Jane was one of the first and fortunate generations of college graduates from Rockford Female Seminary. After her father's death in 1881, she attempted study in the Women's Medical College and was forced to withdraw due to illness. This was the catalyst for a trip abroad to recuperate.

She toured Europe for two years. It was during her second tour of Europe in 1887, that she witnessed a frightening scene of the poor scavenging for food in London.

...I received an ineradicable impression of the wretchedness of East London... A small party of tourists were taken to the East End by a city missionary to witness the Saturday night sale of decaying vegetables and fruit... we saw two huge masses of ill-clad people clamoring around two hucksters' carts. They were bidding their farthings and ha'pennies for a vegetable held up by the auctioneer, which he at last scornfully flung, with a gibe for its cheapness, to the successful bidder. In the momentary pause only one man detached himself form the groups. He had bidden in a cabbage, and when it struck his hand, he instantly sat down on the curb, tore it with...