Skip to main content

L. Jane Addams

Social activist; Born: September 6, 1860 in Cedarville, IL; Died: May 31, 1935 in Chicago, IL

Headshot of L. Jane Addams

Contact Information

Salem Campus

900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301


  • B.A., Rockford Female Seminary, 1881

The daughter of an Illinois legislator and friend of Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams was the president of her class at the Rockford Female Seminary (now Rockford College in Rockford, IL). At college, she took several years of Greek and Latin. In addition, she studied French, German, ancient and modern history, civil government, American literature, Shakespeare, and mathematics (M.L. McCree Bryan et al., edd. The Selected Papers of Jane Addams, vol. 1, University of Illinois Press, 2002, p. 231). She also edited the college paper. In 1881, she graduated as the valedictorian of her class (when Rockford became a baccalaureate institution in 1882, she was awarded the B.A.).

After graduation, Jane Addams took two trips to Europe. In 1888, she and her college friend and first love, Ellen Starr Gates, visited Toynbee Hall in London's East End, a so-called "settlement house" that provided London's poor with basic human services. Eventually, both were inspired to found a similar institution in Chicago. Hull House opened in 1889 and provided medical care, child care, free food, and legal aid. Night classes gave immigrants the chance to learn English, vocational skills, music, art, and drama. Interestingly enough, though, Hull House also offered courses in ancient Greek, elementary Latin, Caesar, and Vergil as well as lectures on ancient Greece and Rome (J.B. Elshtain, Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy: A Life, Basic Books 2002, p. 286).

Later, Addams became active in the Women's Peace Party and the International Congress of Women and unsuccessfully tried to prevent the United States from entering the first World War. From 1919 to her death, she served as the president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the successor organization to the Women's Peace Party. In 1931, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


A site on Hull House from the University of Illinois in Chicago
Willamette University

Classical Studies

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6077 voice
503-370-6944 fax