Jane Addams Essays

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Jane Addams Jane Addams was a Victorian woman born into a male-dominated society on September 6, 1860 in Cedarville, Illinois. Her father was a wealthy landowner and an Illinois senator who did not object to his daughter’s choice to further her education, but who wanted her to have a traditional life. For years after his death, Addams tried to reconcile the family role she was expected to play with her need to achieve personal fulfillment. Jane was born into a rich family and could have very easily become a housewife with few worries. As a little girl, she once tried on a beautiful coat and asked her father, John Addams, if she could wear it to church. Jane’s father advised her to wear an old cloak instead, which would keep here…show more content…
Jane was sent to Rockford Female Seminary in 1877, but desperately wanted to one day attend Smith College, where she could earn a respectable degree. Although the Seminary was not considered a college when Jane enrolled, it was a respected institution that was mostly attended by white, Protestant, middle-class women. However, Jane could not fit into even those broad categories. She was constantly asked to declare her faith and pressured to become a foreign missionary. But Jane never could accept Christ’s divinity. Writing to Ellen Gates Starr, a religious friend she met at Rockford and a lifelong friend, she said of Jesus, "I think of him simply as a Jew living hundreds of years ago, surrounding whom there is a mystery (and) a beauty incomprehensible to me. I feel a little as I do when I hear very fine music – that I am incapable of understanding." Jane was elected president of her class and was adored by her classmates. One of them would write, "However mopey it might be elsewhere, there was intellectual ozone in (Jane’s) vicinity." Yet Jane struggled at Rockford to find a sense of direction and purpose, eventually deciding that she would study medicine after graduation. It was a difficult time for her and she would later write that women were not educated to become leaders, but to be "a symbol of her father’s protection and prosperity."

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