Jane Addams

by Noya from San Diego, California in United States

About six percent of Nobel Peace Prize winners are women. In 1937 Jane Addams became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Nobel Peace Prize winners are heroes. They have benefited humanity. They've also changed people's lives to contribute to a more peaceful Earth. 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a hero is someone who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Heroes are people of courage, idols, and role models. Heroes aren't selfish, cowards, or corrupt. They have variety of good qualities. Ultimately, their purpose is to somehow change the world and help humanity.

134403Jane Addams youngest in a family of 10, Addams was born in September 1860. By the age of eight, she lost her mother and four siblings. She also developed spinal tuberculosis. Addams had dreams of becoming a doctor to help the underprivileged. Her father, John Addams, sent her to Rockford University. However Mr. Addams died the summer after her graduation. The death of her father left Addams with a large fortune. She used part of it to go to Europe. In Europe, she visited Tonybee Hall, the only settlement house at the time. After seeing how Tonybee Hall impacted Europe’s impoverished, she returned to the U.S. Later, Addams founded her own settlement house, Hull House. In the late 1800s, Addams gained an interest in justice and politics. She involved herself in organizations such as The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Anti-Imperialist League, and the International Congress of Women. Addams was later diagnosed with cancer and died in 1935. Her efforts in promoting peace were recognized after her death, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937. Jane Addams' ambition, compassion for others, and persistence that she exhibits through her social work makes her an iconic role model and hero.

134405Hull House Addams' ambition made her keep working to achieve her dreams of helping others. One of Addams’ dreams was to go to Smith College, which brought up conflicts with her father due to their different points of view on educating women. Addams had a passion for education. She said, “I was very ambitious to go to Smith College, although I well knew that my father's theory in regard to the education of his daughters” (Addams 43). Although being a woman going to school was rare, Addams utilized the opportunity after getting permission from her father. She implies that her father disagreed with her about her schooling. She put in hard work and determination to go to school despite her father's views. Ambition is having the drive to do something. Addams wanted to go to Smith College because she knew that was the career path she wanted to take. She didn't let others tell her she couldn't be educated. After college, Addams did a lot of social work. Addams didn't like her work to be considered charitable. Many people gave settlement projects the familiar label of charity work, but “Addams rebuffed this claim. As she explained in her 1893 article, ' The Objective Value of the Social Settlement,’ Addams viewed Hull-House residents as engaged in reciprocal knowledge work: the collection, analysis and dissemination of information combined with intelligent action” (Knight 201). Addams had pure intentions. She genuinely worked hard to help people in need. She founded Hull House because of her ambition to be a social worker. She remained humble and did what she had to without receiving immediate rewards. Addams ambitiousness is significant because it led her to do great things, such as opening Hull House to educate the poor.  

134406Addams with philanthropist Mary Rozet Smith Addams shows compassion through her ideals and good deeds. She founded a settlement house called Hull House, and “was instrumental in successfully lobbying for the establishment of a juvenile court system, better urban sanitation and factory laws, protective labor legislation for women, and more playgrounds and kindergartens throughout Chicago” (Michal, National Women's History Museum). She took action and improved a lot of things she believed were wrong. Her efforts had beneficial outcomes. Laws regarding factory work were set in place, and young children had the opportunity to be educated. She saved many people and displayed heroism because she worked in the interest of others. The results she got were life-changing for children in the labor industry. Adding on, Addams worked for women’s suffrage and “came out strongly against World War I and formed the Women's Peace Party. In 1915 they held a conference in Washington D.C. with 3,000 women in attendance where they formed a Peace Platform promoting ‘continuous mediation’ between the nations until the war ended. Addams later attended a peace conference at The Hague with women from around the world, where they together formed the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and Addams was chosen as its leader” (“Jane Addams”). Addams took control to work for women’s rights. Her passion led her to take action. The significance of this is that she was compassionate towards an issue and used her power to do something about it. She worked for her and half the population's rights and got beneficial results. Furthermore, Addams specifically chose to work in an area that needed the most help: “of opening a similar house in an underprivileged area of Chicago where the focus of Jane Addams’ work was located” (Waterbuggi, 0:43-0:48). She opened up Hull House where she did for a reason. It was an area that she recognized needed help. She worked in that specific area because she wanted to change the lives of the underprivileged residents for the better. Her passion to help others resulted in many people getting respectable jobs and a proper education. Without her compassion, Addams wouldn't have had the desire to aid others. Helping others and allowing them to be better people is admirable because it comes to show that she cared for others and saved lives. Jane Addams' compassion led her to achieve great things like work for women’s suffrage, labor laws, and peace.

Jane Addams’ persistence prompted her to stop at nothing to get what she wanted. For example, Addams was diagnosed with an illness yet didn’t let her condition keep her from graduating: “When Addams was older, she dreamed of going to Smith College but her father refused - it was rare for women to go to college at this time. Instead, she got permission to go to Rockford Female Seminary which was a school concerned with rigorous academics and the moral development of its students” (“Jane Addams”). Addams didn't let an obstacle stop her from getting an education. Her ability to excel at school, being a woman in her time period with a disability, is impressive. Her persistence to achieve her goal despite the stereotypes at the time pushed her to work harder to succeed. Her perseverance was significant because without it, she wouldn't have gotten an education and accomplished what she had. Additionally, Addams’ persistence is shown during her later years when she was working for children’s labor laws. After hearing about various incidents where children in labor factories were dying due to accidents, Addams was moved to work on the welfare of working youth so she “paid a visit to the owners of the factory, confident she writes in Twenty Years, that they would do everything possible to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy” (Knight, 210). Her countless efforts demonstrated her desire to succeed.  After trying and failing in various methods, Addams was still determined to her cause. In the end, her efforts had an impact. Labor laws were set after she took action. Without Addams’ perseverance and good intentions, many more children would've died in accidents.Not stopping for anything to do what’s rights demonstrates the attribute of a hero. Addams’ persistence greatly impacted her work, saved lives, and helped her achieve her goals.

Jane Addams’ ethics and admirable actions have displayed her compassion, modesty and persistence, which is why she is a great role model. Her accomplishments include working for women and children’s rights. She also excelled in school with a disability, which wasn’t typical for women at the time due to fact that most weren't allowed to have a education. While accomplishing all these great things, she suffered through a spinal illness. She worked for everyone's rights. She is someone everyone can look up to. She gives people inspiration to work harder because she faced all her obstacles and led a great life. I admire her selflessness. She demonstrates that nobody has any excuse to not succeed. Her persistence to help others, her ambition, and her display of compassion towards everyone all trace back to the fact that she put others needs before her own, like a true hero. Being selfless and working to help others is something I want to do when I grow up. Like her, I aspire to have a career where I can assist people. I want to make a difference in others' lives. I think poverty is a big issue in our world today that I want to reduce the effects of. Lives are lost due to it daily. Contributing to getting rid of the cause would save many lives. Jane Addams has made countless efforts to better our world. She saved many lives and made our world more peaceful and just. She is someone we can look up to because of her philanthropic actions.   


Work Cited

Addams, Jane. Twenty Years at Hull-House: Illustrated and Unabridged. Feather Trail Press, 2009.

Knight, Louise W. Citizen Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy. University of Chicago Press, 2008.

“Jane Addams.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,

Michals, Debra “Jane Addams.” National Women's History Museum,

Waterbuggi, The Life and Work of Jane Addams, YouTube, 9 Sept. 2011,

Page created on 6/4/2019 12:40:43 AM

Last edited 6/5/2019 3:49:11 AM

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Related Links

Jane Addams: Charity Organization - Addams created The Committee on Charity Organization
Jane Addams wins Nobel Piece Prize - In 1931, The New York Time published a newspaper on Jane Addams being the first American woman to win the Nobel Piece Prize.