The Jane Addams Hull House Museum in Chicago

During the first half of the 20th century probably everybody in Chicago had known Jane Addams, a woman who spend most of her lifetime and private money to build up a vibrant social center, called Hull House, wrote several books on social and democratic questions and was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Price for Peace (1931).

But as time passed by her degree of popularity decreased. We visited the Hull House Museum, located on the campus of the University of Illinois in Chicago, to rediscover some of her ideas and to learn more about the current programms of the Jane Addams Hull House Association. The museum is located in two small reconstructed buildings, that only can give a limited impression of the deminsion of the Hull House located in this neighborhood from 1889 to the 1960’s. Still, in combination with a guided tour (thanks to Amanda Signore, who was willing to tell us all the stories behind the objects and patiently answered all our questions), the small collection of art pieces, pictures and books gave us a good idea of what was organized at that settlement house, for whom and why. At Hull House Jane Addams opend up one of the first kindergardens in North America, developed educational programms and created a social community that served hundreds of people per week. There was also a library, an employment bureau and an art gallery at Hull House.

And as we discovered, Jane Addams also was monitored by the FBI due to her political activities (e.g. in the Immigrants Protective League) and her generell power (she was know for her strong believe in the freedom of speech and therefore made available her rooms for many public discussion).

Nowadays the Jane Addams Association supports many community centers in various Chicago neighborhoods and provides several social programms, for example: child welfare and foster care and homeless, housing or senior services.

To learn more about Jane Addams and the Hull House Museum check out the internet side: http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull

Corinna Weber


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