Essay about Jane Addams

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An American pragmatist and feminist, Hull-House founder Jane Addams (1860-1935) came of age in time of increasing tensions and division between segments of the American society, a division that was reflected in debates about educational reform. In the midst of this diversity, Addams saw the profoundly interdependent nature of all social and political interaction, and she aligned her efforts to support, emphasize and increase this interdependence. Education was one of the ways she relied on to overcome class disparity, as well as to increase interaction between classes. Her theories about the interdependent nature of living in a democracy provided a backdrop for her educational theory. Education, she thought, needed to produce people who …show more content…
Trained to respond first to their "family claims," women had to respond instead to "social claims" in order to survive in the male-dominated business world. Women were taught to identify with their families to such an extent that they did not organize to defend their rights. Women weakened their fellow laborers when they limited their female vision to the immediate needs of their families. Addams strongly criticized this:
The maternal instinct and family affection is woman's most holy attribute, but if she enters industrial life, that is not enough. She must supplement her family conscience by a social and an industrial conscience. She must widen her family affection to embrace the children of the community. She is wrecking havoc in the sewing-trades, because with the meager equipment sufficient for family life she has entered industrial life (Addams 57).
Because Addams supported the labor movement and many unions were organized by men and banned women as equal participants, the women's labor unions in Chicago were organized primarily through Hull-House. In 1892, the cloak makers were organized there, and in 1891, the shirt makers (Addams 58). The Chicago Women's Trade Union League was also organized there (Addams 59).
Union organizing required more than simply providing a setting. The women workers needed to define themselves in relation to the conflicting family and social

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