Jane Adams

The idea of reform is intimidating to most people.   After all, Webster defines reform as “the amendment of what is defective, vicious, corrupt, or depraved”.   This implies that one who reforms is calling a current situation, and any person who supports this situation, “defective, vicious, corrupt, or depraved”.   Who would be courageous enough to do such a thing?   Yet no society is perfect, and sometimes, situations and circumstances in a society become so appalling and intolerable that it is necessary for someone, anyone, to step in and to take on the role of “reformer”.   One of those brave individuals was Ms. Jane Addams.   In the late 1800s and the early 1900s, Addams lived among the desperately poor immigrants in the Nineteenth Ward of Chicago.   She created, built, and led the country’s first settlement house, a collaborative center where volunteers, including Addams, permanently resided, providing a multitude of programs and services of all types for the community.   Moreover, Addams became increasingly active in causes that benefited not only those who lived in the Nineteenth Ward, but other groups she saw as being taken advantage of by society.   Through both hands-on and legal methods, Addams reformed labor policies, tenement regulations, and juvenile courts; she also had a lasting influence on women’s suffrage, African-American rights, and the peace movement.   While reforming the conditions of one immigrant community in Chicago was Addams’ starting point, and perhaps her most memorable contribution as a reformer, it was one of many ways in which she positively impacted society as a whole.

Problem and Historical Context
The dreadful conditions endured by immigrants in the late 1800s and the early 1900s was a social evil that still leaves scars on American society to this day.   During this time, the immigration rate to America was at its highest in American history, as it more than doubled between the years of 1870 and 1910 (Nixon 17;...