Social movements such as the Fashion Revolution are the heart and soul of great and wonderful change. Indeed, as Margaret Mead said,
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Our #womencrushwednesday this week embodies that belief. She is a true symbol of the spirit of grassroots activism and widespread, monumental social reform. You may remember her from your high school history class and that’s because this fierce lady was a part of one of the first and largest social justice reform movements in our country’s history. There are so many nuggets of wisdom, inspiration, and hope in the beautiful pages of this lady’s story and I am so excited to share them with you today.
Without further ado, here is the Jane Addams (yes!!! Jane Addams!) 101:
Now, let’s dig in deeper!
Jane Addams was born into a prosperous Illinois family of 10 in 1860. She loved reading, playing outside, and going to Sunday school. Her father, whom she adored, was politically prominent and kept a letter from his close friend Abraham Lincoln in his desk at all times. As a teenager, Jane knew she wanted to make a difference in the world, her passion for the poor growing as she voraciously read Dickens novels. She decided she wanted to be a doctor.
Jane and her sister Alice moved to Pennsylvania in 1881 to pursue their educations, completing their first year of medical school. Jane, however, was dealt a handful of serious health blows that left her unable to continue her medical education.
She fell into despair and sadness at not being physically able to continue, but in 1889, Jane and her friend Ellen Gates Starr founded Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago. The Hull House was a center for research, study, and debate, as well as a pragmatic center for living in and establishing good relations with the neighborhood. It included a night school, an art gallery, a gym, a library, a theatre, and public bathroom facilities. Through these programs, Addams and Starr set out to educate, inspire, and assist people in low-income communities, especially immigrants.
Hull House was based on three ethical principles:
to teach by example, to practice cooperation, and to practice social democracy, that is, egalitarian, or democratic, social relations across class lines.
In this capacity, the Hull House combined feminist passions with an unwavering commitment to social improvement and justice through collaboration and education. Hull House became a thriving educational space for aspiring social workers, earning Addams the nickname of “the Mother of Social Work”.
In 1919, her entrepreneurial drive led her to establish the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, which worked to convince governments to disarm and negotiate peace agreements. Her outspoken opposition to the United States’ involvement in the Second World War led many to label her as a dangerous radical
and threat to national security.
In 1931, however, she became the second woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her advancement of the cause of pacifism and feminism.
Jane Addams dedicated to servanthood and generosity and her fierce commitment to her ideals is truly inspirational.
I hope you can take some of the gems we’ve learned from Jane Addams life with as you plant the seeds of social change in the fertile ground being toiled.
Happy, happy Wednesday! Hope you enjoyed this deep dive into Jane Addams life! Who is your #womencrushwednesday? Share in the comments below!