Jane Addams was one of the first generation of American women to attend college. After graduation, unmarried,she struggled to find a career and a purpose. Finally in London she discovered Toynbee Hall and the cause to which she would devote her life: the settlement house, a special facility established to help the poor. In 1889 she and a college friend moved into the slums of Chicago. They called their dilapidated old mansion Hull House.
Soon a nationwide settlement house movement sprang up. Jane Addams spoke and wrote widely about settlement work. Her vivid stories made the plight of the poor heartbreakingly immediate. She prodded America to respond to the terrible ills of industrial development: child labor, infant mortality, urban crowding and unsanitary conditions, unsafe workplaces, juvenile delinquency, unemployment, and poverty wages.
Her pacifism during World War I caused Jane Addams’s reputation to suffer. In the hysterical intolerance of the “Red Scare” she was branded “the most dangerous woman in America” by self-appointed superpatriots. But her accomplishments could not be denied. Calmer times brought renewed recognition, capped by the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.