Jane Addams - The first American woman to win Nobel Peace Prize

Jane Addams - The first American woman to win Nobel Peace Prize

Jane Addams was a progressive social reformer and activist who won The Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 for the international respect received for her peace activism. Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860, in a small farming town in Chicago, Illinois. During her childhood, Addams had big dreams of doing something useful in the world. She was committed to the greater good since she was young. Jane was valedictorian at her school. She also graduated at the top of her class from Rockford Female Seminary and continued with a few females at the time unto their college education. The historians have called these independent women “New Women". After school, Jane attempted to study medicine, but her own poor health derailed her. Jane was an avid reader, and this has led her to become interested in the poor from her reading of Dickens.

Jane traveled with her friend to London and visited Toynbee Hall, a settlement house that provided services to poor industrial workers. Hence, the idea of Hull House came about, and she decided to transfer to the USA. She established Hull House in Chicago’s poor, industrial west side. It is considered the first settlement house in the United States. The goal of the house was for educated women to share all kinds of knowledge, from basic skills to arts and literature, and maintain philanthropic enterprises.

Over time, her focused changed to that of meeting the needs of the neighborhood and community by providing childcare, educational opportunities, and large meeting spaces.

Hull House's establishment goal is to generate system-directed change. She believed that art is an integral part of the community. So, she wanted the house to provide a space, time, and tools to encourage people to think independently. Eventually, the house became more than a ground for the new generation of college-educated. She achieved her aim and became part of the community.

“I am not one of those who believe - broadly speaking - those women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done, but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.”

Addams became a role model for middle-class women who volunteered to uplift their communities.

When she was elected president of the International Committee of Women for a Permanent Peace, she defended the rights of women in the decisions around war and peace. She claimed that the exclusion of women caused defective policies.

She said that if women were to be responsible for cleaning up their communities and making them better places to live, they needed to be able to vote to do so effectively.

During World War I, she received her second major calling her - promoting international peace.

Known as a world peacemaker, she protested US entry into World War I, which caused her to lose some of her popularity.

“True peace is not merely the absence of war; it is the presence of justice.”

Addams didn't give up. She wrote many articles and gave speeches worldwide promoting peace.

Furthermore, she found the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919. She held a position as its president until 1929 and honorary president until her death in 1935.

Jane Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in 1931, as the first American woman to receive this award.