Jane Addams was raised in a comfortably well-off family in a farming community. So when, as a child, she first saw that some people in the city lived in horrible conditions she was shocked. But instead of wanting to run away, she decided that she wanted to live among those poor people.
She grew up to do more than that. In 1889 Jane Addams and her partner Ellen Starr found a big house in an area of Chicago where many recent immigrants lived, often in dirty, crowded conditions of extreme poverty. That house became Hull House, which not only provided a place for 25 women (including Addams and Starr) to live, it also served as a location for people to join clubs, discussions, and activities, as well as take English and citizenship classes, and theater, music, and art classes.
Hull House provided a kindergarten and day care for the children of working mothers, an employment bureau, an art gallery, a museum, and libraries. Those lectures and discussions and classes were places for poor immigrants and wealthier Chicago residents to come together and learn from one another, because Addams strongly believed that people of different social classes had a great deal to teach one another, and that we all are better off when people come together.
Learn more by visiting The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum online.