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Jane Addams – The Mother of Social Work

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Jane Addams was illustrated as a feminist and activist. Despite the fact that Social Work did not exist as such, she went with her instincts and learned from her experience of working with different people with desperate and complex needs. Jane was most recognised as the ‘Mother’ of Social Work.

Jane was inspired to recreate Toynbee the world’s first settlement house in London which she discovered whilst travelling with her friend Ellen Starr. Jane described what she witnessed at Toynbee as ‘’so unaffectedly sincere and so productive of good results in its classes and libraries that it seemed perfectly ideal.’’ Following Janes trip to London she along with her friend Ellen Starr opened Hull House the first establishment in the U.S which would go on to help hundreds of individuals week in week out. Hull House mainly supported immigrants and the poor, providing them with health services, education programs, libraries, shelter and security. Jane thrived off helping those less fortunate and with nowhere to go so for her providing a sense of security for these individuals , where they would have access to social and educational opportunities was a way for her to try get equality across because she believed everyone was entitled to health, education, shelter and security no matter your wealth status, gender, race, ethnicity or age.

By 1900 Hull House had massively succeeded in the way Jane had never expected, Hull House was helping over 2000 people each week and had expanded the resources that they provided massively including pool, gym, book bindery and even day care for children of working mothers. Florence Kelly, Alice Hamilton, Julia Lathrop along with several others joined Jane Adams at Hull House. Between them all they launched numerous important social programs, including the immigrants protective league and juvenile protective association, alongside this these women helped enact protective legislation for women and children, child labour regulations and mandatory education laws. 

Alongside the work Jane did to help the less fortunate and people in need she received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. ‘’Jane began her public life as a leader of the U.S progressive era Social reform movement. She combined theory and action through her settlement work in the often, contentious, immigrant communities in Chicago. Addams developed innovative theories of democracy and peace, which were advanced through extensive public speaking engagements, 11 books and hundreds of articles.’’ 

In the lead up to Janes final years her health seriously declined after she had a heart attack in 1926 despite this, she still spent the remainder of her life working at Hull House when she passed at 70 years old. Following Jane Addams death in 1935 she is remembered not only as a pioneer in the field of social work but as one of the nation’s leading pacifists. Jane showed compassion and genuine care when it was needed the most, she showed empathy and sympathy and set an example of how no one should be discriminated against. Jane Addams set high standards and procedures in which we now as social workers still follow to this day, she was everything a Social Worker should be.


  • Kington, A,. 2020. [online] InterExchange. Hhtps;//
  • Paul, C.A. (20160. Jane Addams 91860-19350 Social Welfare history
  • Addams, J. 1907. Democracy and Social Ethics. New York; Macmillan. 

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