Jane Addams

The Heart of Hull-House

Hull-House stands as a testament to the progressive social campaigns that its affluent co-founder Jane Addams orchestrated. A converted mansion, which eventually expanded into a 13-building settlement complex housing low-income, mostly European immigrant Chicagoans, Hull-House also provided women with skills and education to break into male-dominated fields and support for low-income mothers. Hull-House staff advocated for women’s right to work and a safe home environment, which were vital components of Addams’s identity as she helped shift conversations about poverty away from moral rebuke to focus more on social welfare.

A queer woman, Addams carved an unconventional path for herself by maintaining a long-term relationship with fellow Hull-House benefactor Mary Rozet Smith. For Addams, home was a person and where she could be herself completely. Outside of her home, there was always a risk of society rejecting her for who she loved. Addams’s private domesticity and her philanthropic work show how she believed women should be loved and respected within their own home, regardless of status or sexual orientation.


Object label:

Jane Addams Bronze Bust

A 1964 bust of Addams by Lawrence Taylor, commissioned by the Illinois General Assembly to commemorate her 100th birthday.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

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