Jane Addams is best known as the founder of Hull-House, one of this country's first settlement houses, in the immigrant heart of late Victorian Chicago. This biography chronicles her privileged childhood in rural Illinois, her thirst for a first-class education, and her search for purpose and self-fulfillment, although constrained by notions of the proper role for females. It chronicles Addams' tireless work to better the lives of urban immigrants and her growing national and international role in social reform. The narrative of her family travails, deep friendships, reading, writing, travels, beliefs, and accolades and changing public perception of her causes is consummately woven with historical context of her times--from the Civil War Era to the Great Depression. The range of Addams' concerns, of her active social and political involvement, is astonishing. She belonged to and helped to found many organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She championed women's suffrage and equality and believed in their moral strength in reform. At one point, she was cast in the role of middle class secular saint, and she became the most honored woman in the United States. As the United States entered World War I and later, Addams was called a dangerous radical and unchristian scoundrel and vilified for her outspoken pacifism and championing of free speech, human rights, and other progressive causes and groups. Her profound contributions to society began to be recognized again in the 1960s, and this biography reveals her greatness to a new generation.
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