Jane Addams was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She was also a suffragist, a social reformer, a pacifist and the founder of the U.S. Settlement House movement. Jane Addams was born September 6, 1860, in Cedarville, Illinois, to John H. and Sarah Weber Addams, the eighth children of nine born to the couple. Jane’s family was well off and prosperous family, her father being President of the Second National Bank of Freeport, a Senator of Illinois, and owner of a grain mill. Of the nine children born, three would die while infants. Jane was two years old when her mother would die of tuberculosis while she was pregnant. Her father would remarry when she was eight years old. Her father was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln and a founding member of the Republican Party. Jane would suffer through health problems throughout her life due to some problems with her spine.
Jane Adams would graduate from Rockford Female Seminary in 1881 and a year later was granted a bachelor’s degree when the school would become accredited as Rockford College for Women. She would study medicine over the next six years but due to health problems, would have to leave. She would hospitalized many times, but would travel and study in Europe for a period of twenty-one months. She would think of what her future would be for the next two years as she read and wrote. On a trip at the age of twenty-seven she would discover what her calling would be; she would open a home for the underprivileged in Chicago, with the help of a friend, Ellen G. Starr. Together, they would try to help and improve conditions in the industrial are of Chicago.
Both of these ladies would make speeches, would raise money, making convincing arguments to women who were well off to help, would take care of children, would nurse the ill, and listen to people as they would tell them their problems. The place that they would do all this would be called Hull House and this was a place where people could come as a neutral place for help. So much would be handled at this place as time would go on, more would be added to help those who needed it. Her responsibilities also would grow and she would be appointed a position on the Chicago Board Education in 1905. In 1908, she would would participate in the founding of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy. She would also become President of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. She would have also the responsibilities of investigations into midwifery, consumption of drugs, supplying of milk, and the sanitary conditions. She would also add garbage inspector to her list of accomplishments. She would also be the first woman to receive the first honorary degree from Yale University in 1910.
Jane Addams had the belief that women should have a voice in everything that mattered and thought that women should be allowed to vote. She was among the select few that believed women should be allowed to vote. It was also her thoughts that women should have goals and be allowed to exercise their beliefs. She would also have many lectures on war and that we should not have to go to war. She would have many peace lectures as she traveled, trying to get her point across. In 1913, she would have a speech on peace and the issues involved at the The Peace Palace at the Hague and she would lecture at the Carnegie Foundation and would speak against our involvement in the First World War. She would accept a chairmanship in 1915, to the Woman’s Peace Party, and four months later would become the President of the International of Women. She would also be the President of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom after Congress founded it, until 1929.
Jane Addams would be attacked in the press for her views on the war and also be expelled from the DAR, or The Daughters of the American Revolution. She would find other ways to have her views heard and would continue helping others, by becoming an assistant to Herbert Hoover. She would have a book published, in 1922, that would tell about her life and story, called “Peace and Bread in Time of War”.
In 1926, Jane Addams would suffer heart attack and was never the same. Her health would not get better and she would be admitted to the Baltimore Hospital on the day that she would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. On May 21, 1935, Jane Addams would pass away, three days after an operation that found some unsuspecting cancer. Her funeral would be held at the Hull-House courtyard.