Little Bits of History

Hull House

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 18, 2014
Hull House

Hull House 

September 18, 1889: Hull House opens. It was a settlement house, part of the settlement movement of social reforms which took place from the 1880s to the 1920s. Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr opened their house on the Near West Side of Chicago, Illinois and named it after the home’s first owner. They modeled the enterprise on Toynbee Hall which opened in 1885 in the East End of London. The women’s movement of the late 19th century promoted education, autonomy, and women’s ability to take on jobs which were thought to be “men’s work”. Organizations of women formed a sisterhood and college educated women took their cause to the working class and poor neighborhoods to help their sisters rise from the oppressed social norms.

From the beginning, Hull House was a place for educated women, often single, to pass on their knowledge and give other women opportunities to earn their way in the outside world. Many of the people around Hull House were recent European immigrants. The college women gave classes on literature, history, art, and domestic activities such as sewing along with a host of other topics. Hull House offered free concerts as well as free lectures on current issues. These were open to everyone. They operated clubs for both adults and children.

Throughout the first twenty years of the House’s existence, thousands of immigrants from the area were served. Many of the female residents of the house went on to become prominent and influential reformers in their own right. They offered medical assistance to battered women and children, nursed the sick, and did their best by residents even if a doctor was unavailable. Helping the unfortunate led the leaders to advocate for legislative reforms. They lobbied for betterment in the area of child labor, women’s suffrage, healthcare reform, and immigration policy. There are those who claim the Hull House is the seed from which today’s Social Welfare programs stemmed.

By 1911, Hull House had grown to 13 buildings and the next year the complex added a summer camp, the Bowen Country Club. The idea spread and by 1920, there were 500 settlement houses across the nation. In Chicago, the original house underwent near continual modifications, renovations, and improvements. The original building and one other still exist today. On June 23, 1965, it was made a National Historic Landmark and on June 12, 1974, Hull House was designated a Chicago Landmark. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places as well. Today, it is overseen by the University of Illinois at Chicago. They no longer minister to the poor, but the building remains open as a museum.

Passive righteousness tells us that God does not need our good works. Active righteousness tells us that our neighbor does. The aim and direction of good works are horizontal, not vertical. – Tullian Tchividjian

It is a common assumption that a person’s good works will get them into Heaven. – Monica Johnson

In dreams the truth is learned that all good works are done in the absence of a caress. – Leonard Cohen

Most of us want to have enough… good works to get into heaven, but enough bad works to be fun. – Rick Warren

Also on this day: Capitol Building – In 1793, George Washington lays the cornerstone for the Capitol Building.
High Class – In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and partner opened a new store.
All the News That’s Fit to Print – In 1851, The New York Times first went on sale.
Old Faithful – In 1870, the geyser was named by an expeditionary force.

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