“Jane Addams.” c. 1896-1900. Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

In 1887, Jane Addams came across a story about a “settlement house” in London — an organization that provided both social services for the poor and opportunities for college-educated women like herself to support working families. She believed such a settlement house could offer a solution to poverty in American cities. With her partner, Ellen Gates Starr, Addams opened Hull House in Chicago in 1889, offering neighborhood residents — most of them immigrants — childcare, health care, and other social services alongside recreation, cultural events, and a safe space to gather and play. Hull House inspired a movement: by 1900, there were at least 100 settlement houses across the U.S.

Jane Addams and Hull House