In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Jane Addams

  • Introduction
  • Addams’s Monographs
  • Addams’s Work in Collected Volumes
  • Addams’s Published Articles
  • Addams’s Collected Works, Including Articles, Letters, and Speeches
  • Intellectual Biographies of Addams
  • Social Philosophy
  • Peace Studies
  • Analyses of Addams’s Theories and Practices of Education
  • Analyses of Addams’s Sociological and Social-Scientific Theories
  • Works on Addams as a Protofeminist Care Ethicist
  • Analyses of Addams’s Theories and Practices of Community Activism
  • Works on Addams’s Hull House Community

Philosophy Jane Addams
by
Maurice Hamington
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 September 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 August 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0423

Introduction

Jane Addams (b. 1860–d. 1935) is considered one of the founding figures in American pragmatist philosophy, social work, and sociology. The daughter of a prominent American politician from Illinois, Addams grew up in a privileged environment that included graduating from college, an opportunity not afforded the majority of women at the time. Addams cofounded one of the earliest social settlements of the Progressive Era, Hull House in Chicago. The settlement began with an unfocused commitment to social amelioration and would evolve into a dynamo social projects. Living there for the remaining nearly fifty years of her life amid one of the most significant migrant influxes that the United States has known, Addams led a community of mostly women who pioneered improving community welfare in education, recreation, labor, sanitation, health, criminal justice, and the arts. An accomplished writer and speaker, Addams engaged the public through academic articles, popular articles, books, and speeches amid her community activism. She would become a friend and colleague of John Dewey, William James, and George Herbert Mead, influencing them as much as they did her. A dominant theme of her work is the idea that democracy is more than a system of government and entails a moral way of being with one another. Addams’s first book was Democracy and Social Ethics (1902), and the title reveals her abiding belief that democracy was a social morality that is in ongoing need of enrichment. A relational social democracy underpins Addams’s social analysis. Her writings address various social and political subjects, including education, peace, labor organizing, child labor laws, race, women’s rights, philanthropy, sex trafficking, and familial relations. Internationally, Addams is best known for her work on peace. She was the first American woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, in 1931. Able to adapt her message to audience and context, Addams also wrote about events such as the Pullman Strike of 1894 and the murder trial of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti during the 1920s, as well as about people such as Abraham Lincoln, Leo Tolstoy, and Julia Lathrop. In the spirit of American pragmatism, Addams would draw more prominent social themes from individual experiences she confronted, as she did in finding psychosocial forces at work in the proliferation of “Devil Baby” stories among immigrant populations in the summer of 1916. Consistently recognized for her outstanding activism, her intellectual work was overshadowed by prominent male figures during most of the 20th century. However, a reclamation of Addams’s unique contribution began in the 1990s, and in the 2020s, Addams studies are growing as more scholars find inspiration in her methods and writings.

Addams’s Monographs

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Addams published ten single-authored books; most have been reprinted. The University of Illinois editions include valuable introductions by prominent Addams scholars. Addams 2002a is her most important work philosophically, although Addams 1990 is her most well-known book, having never gone out of print. Peace was the explicit topic of two of her books, Addams 2007 and Addams 2002b, as well as a significant part of Addams 1930. Addams’s book topics were eclectic but focused on people’s experience, such as the motivations of young people in Addams 1972 and the plight of women in Addams 2002c as well as in Addams 2002d. Addams’s final two monographs, Addams 1970 and Addams 2002e, were biographically based.

  • Addams, Jane. The Second Twenty Years at Hull-House: September 1909 to September 1929, with a Record of a Growing World Consciousness. New York: Macmillan, 1930.

    The only Addams monograph not to be reprinted, this book is a sequel to Twenty Years at Hull-House (Addams 1990), which recounts and analyzes local and national activities during and after World War I.

  • Addams, Jane. The Excellent Becomes the Permanent. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1970.

    Initially published in 1932, this book is a collection of primarily obituary-like essays addressing significant figures associated (sometimes loosely associated) with Hull House, including residents, benefactors, community members, and inspirational individuals.

  • Addams, Jane. The Spirt of Youth and the City Streets. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972.

    Originally published in 1909, this book addresses the plight of children and young people in society, including issues of motivation, education, recreation, and the arts. Introductory essay by Allen F. Davis.

  • Addams, Jane. Twenty Years at Hull-House. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

    Initially published in 1910 and never having gone out of print, this minor American classic is autobiographical and recounts the many innovations of the Hull House community in Chicago. Introductory essay by James Hurt.

  • Addams, Jane. Democracy and Social Ethics. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002a.

    Originally published in 1902, this is Addams’s earliest monograph, and it explains her understanding of democracy as entailing social ethics by addressing social relationships in various sectors of society. Introductory essay by Charlene Haddock Seigfried.

  • Addams, Jane. Peace and Bread in Time of War. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002b.

    Initially published in 1922 during the post–World War I period; Addams reflects on her failed effort to stop the US entry into the war and how she adapted her progressive efforts amid the hostilities. Addams also analyzes the public perception as her popularity plummets because of her steadfast pacifism.

  • Addams, Jane. The Long Road of Women’s Memory. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002c.

    Originally published in 1916, this book offers Addams’s social and political analysis of conversations she had with women in the Hull House neighborhood. Introductory essay by Charlene Haddock Seigfried.

  • Addams, Jane. A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002d.

    Originally published in 1912, this book is ostensibly part of a popular genre of books sensationalizing and moralizing prostitution. Still, Addams takes a systemic approach that resonates with modern concerns about human trafficking. Introductory essay by Katherine Joslin.

  • Addams, Jane. My Friend, Julia Lathrop. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002e.

    Originally published in the year of Addams’s death, 1935, this book uses the vehicle of the extraordinary life and career of Hull House resident Julia Lathrop to address social and political issues such as health care, juvenile law, social work, and philanthropy. Introductory essay by Anne Firor Scott.

  • Addams, Jane. Newer Ideals of Peace. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

    Initially published in 1907, this book establishes Addams’s comprehensive and assertive approach to peace that goes beyond concerns of war to the militarization of society. Introductory essay by Berenice A. Carroll and Clinton F. Fink.

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