Social Reformer Leads Women’s Peace Movement
Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois in September 1860. As a teenager, she aspired to be a doctor treating the poor after reading Dickens. Addams attended the Woman’s Medical College of Philadelphia but ill-health and family matters made her stop her education. In the summer of 1887, Addams read in a magazine about the new idea of starting a settlement house. She decided to visit the world’s first, Toynbee Hall, in London. Inspired by this and driven with a reformer’s zeal, Addams and a college friend co-founded Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago, Illinois in a run-down mansion.
Addams saw Hull House as a place where unexpected cultural connections could be made and where the narrow boundaries of culture, class, and education could be expanded. They doubled up as community arts centers and social service facilities. Addams and other female residents of Hull House initiated projects to improve conditions for workingwomen, end child labor, and provide education for women, children, the elderly, and immigrants. Hull House was instrumental in establishing Progressive reforms such as the creation of the Children’s Bureau to regulate child labor and the development of women’s professions in nursing, social work, and civil service. Hull House made Addams a spokes person for progressive reforms such as women’s suffrage, elimination of child labor and relief for the poor. She was a speaker for Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential campaign in 1912.
Addams became active in the Peace Movement. Organization like The American Peace Society, the World Peace Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment worked for world peace and understanding between nations but these groups offered little on no participation for women. In August 1914 less than a month after the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, a protest march of 1500 women in New York City called the “Woman’s Peace Parade” was organized. A silent procession marched down Fifth Avenue behind a white banner bearing a dove in front of somber crowds lining the streets. Rather than a behind-the-scenes approach, the Women’s Peace Parade use “direct action” and change the fledgling anti-war movement in America. Encouraged by the success of the parade, women activists moved to form a permanent organization. Two weeks ago, in Washington, DC more than 100 delegates representing women’s organizations from around the United States gathered and established the Women’s Peace Party. They named Jane Addams as their first president.
On January 22, 1915 this photo of Jane Addams was taken as she went about promoting the Women’s Peace Party and working on plans to attend the 1915 International Congress of Women in the Netherlands this April.