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Twenty Years at Hull House (1910)
by Jane Addams
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451527399, Mass Market Paperback)While on a trip to East London in 1883, Jane Addams witnessed a distressing scene late one night: masses of poor people were bidding on rotten vegetables that were unsalable anywhere else.
Their pale faces were dominated by that most unlovely of human expressions, the cunning and shrewdness of the bargain-hunter who starves if he cannot make a successful trade, and yet the final impression was not of ragged, tawdry clothing nor of pinched and sallow faces, but of myriads of hands, empty, pathetic, nerveless, and workworn, showing white in the uncertain light of the street, and clutching forward for food which was already unfit to eat.
This scene haunted Addams for the next two years as she traveled through Europe, and she hoped to find a way to ease such suffering. Five years later, she visited Toynbee Hall, a London settlement house, and resolved to replicate the experiment in the U.S. On September 18, 1889, Jane Addams and her friend Ellen Starr moved into the second floor of a rundown mansion in Chicago's West Side. From the outset, they imagined Hull-House as a "center for a higher civic and social life" in the industrial districts of the city. Addams, Starr, and several like-minded individuals lived and worked among the poor, establishing (among other things) art classes, discussion groups, cooperatives, a kindergarten, a coffee house, a lending library, and a gymnasium. In a time when many well-to-do Americans were beginning to feel threatened by immigrants, Hull-House embraced them, showed them the true meaning of democracy, and served as a center for philanthropic efforts throughout Chicago.
Hull-House also provided an outlet for the energies of the first generation of female college graduates, who were educated for work yet prevented from doing it. In some respects, however, Addams's impressive work, often hailed by historians as "revolutionary," was nothing of the sort. She embraced the sexual stereotypes of her day, and, though she was clearly an independent woman, soothed public fears by acting primarily in the traditional roles of nurturer and caregiver. Hull-House was a rousing success, and it inspired others to follow in Addams's footsteps.
Though Twenty Years at Hull-House is meant to be an autobiography, it is Hull-House itself that stands in the spotlight. Addams devotes the first third of the book to her upbringing and influences, but the remainder focuses on the organization she built--and the benefits accruing to those who work with the poor as well as to the poor themselves. At times Addams's prose is difficult to follow, but her ideals and her actions are truly inspiring. A classic work of history--and a model for today's would-be philanthropists. --Sunny Delaney
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:32 -0400)
The classic memoir of one of the Progressive Era's most important reformers and social activists. If it is natural to feed the hungry ... it is certainly natural to give pleasure to the young, comfort to the aged, and to minister to the deep-seated craving for social intercourse that all men feel. In 1889, Jane Addams and her partner, Ellen Starr, opened the first settlement house in the United States. On Chicago's West Side, Hull House was devoted to the city's poor and forgotten, from immigrants and unwed mothers to the elderly, homeless, and hungry. Its charter proclaimed its mission "to provide a center for higher civic and social life, to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago." In Twenty Years at Hull House, Addams chronicles her revolutionary work from its conception in the Gilded Age through the dawn of the Progressive Era. A cofounder of the American Civil Liberties Union and the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Addams devoted her life to realizing a more noble vision of democracy. More than a personal memoir, Twenty Years at Hull-House is a landmark document of social theory and political history. This ebook has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.
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