I. JA’s Youth, 1860 -1889
II. JA’s first Ten Years at Hull House, 1889 -1899
III. The Progressive Years, 1900 -1914
IV: The War Years, 1914 -1918
V. The Conservative 1920s
VI. The Unsettled 1930s

To download a printable version of this chronology, click here.

For a note about sources used for the chronology click here.

 

Jane Addams:
A Chronology (1860-1935)

Compiled by Louise W. Knight
August 2010

 

I. Jane Addams’s Youth, 1860-1888

1860

Sept. 6

Laura Jane Addams is born in Cedarville, Stephenson County, IL. She is the 8th of 9 children of which only 5, including herself, live beyond their second year.  At the time of her birth she has three older sisters, Mary, Martha, and Alice, and one brother, Weber. Since her parents are evangelical Christians, she is not baptized. She is expected to have a conversion experience when she is old enough and to be baptized then.

1863

January

Her mother, Sarah Weber Addams, 45, seven months pregnant, dies from internal bleeding caused by a fall; the baby she is carrying is stillborn.

1865

 

She is ill with tuberculosis; the infection travels to her spine (tuberculosis of the spine is called Pott’s Disease), and damages it, giving it a small, unnatural curve. 

1867

March

Her sister, Martha Addams, age 16, dies of typhoid. 

1868

November

Her father, John Huy Addams, 46, a wealthy agricultural industrialist, whose businesses included timber, cattle, a flour mill, a woolen mill, a life insurance company, and a bank, and a popular state senator, marries second wife, Anna Hostetter Haldeman, 40, a local widow with a love of culture (she was Martha Addams’s piano teacher). Anna’s older son Harry, 20, is living in Freeport and studying medicine with a local doctor. Anna’s younger son, George, 7 moves with her from Freeport to Cedarville and becomes a playmate for Jane, 8.

1871

November

Her sister Mary Addams, age 26, marries John Linn, a Presbyterian minister. They will move frequently in Illinois and Iowa, as he changes from church to church. Mary and John will have four children grow to adulthood: John, James Weber, Esther and Stanley. Two more children die before they are 3. 

1872

May

Her brother Weber Addams, age 20, suffers a psychotic break and is institutionalized at the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville for several months. Judging from his symptoms and their timing, his illness was most likely schizophrenia.

1875

October

Her sister Alice, 22, marries her stepbrother, Harry Haldeman, 27. In 1878 he will earn an M.D. from the Medical College of Northwestern University and the couple will set up practice in Mitchellville, IA.

 

 

Sometime in her teens, she decides she would like to be a doctor and serve the poor.

1876

March

Her brother Weber Addams, 24, marries Laura Shoemaker. They settle in Cedarville and he works for his father. They will have one child, Sarah.

1877-1881

 

Although hoping to attend Smith college, a brand new women’s college with a strong science program, she is required by her father to go to a school closer to home. She attends Rockford Female Seminary, Rockford, IL, where her father is a trustee.
She meets Ellen Gates Starr her first year

1878

April

She publishes her first work in print, “Plated Ware,” in the Rockford Seminary Magazine

   

1879-1880

Junior yr.

She is president of her literary society, junior class president, and organizes an oratorical exhibition for her class.

1880-1881

Senior yr.

She is editor of Rockford Seminary Magazine

1881

June

She graduates valedictorian of her class at Rockford Female Seminary with a “collegiate certificate.” She has enough credits to receive a B.A., but does not receive one because the board of trustees has not yet authorized that degree. She wants to study science at Smith, since Rockford did not have strong science courses, in order to prepare to earn her medical degree. She aspires to study science and earn a BA at Smith College the coming fall (Rockford’s science offerings were weak), and then earn an M.D. at the University of Edinburgh and become a doctor living among the poor. Her father refuses to allow her to attend Smith next fall, saying she is too exhausted from her Rockford studies, and needs to rest.

 

August

Her father, 59, dies of appendicitis, leaving a generous estate to his wife and four children (the stepchildren inherit nothing, as is traditional). Weber, as the only son, inherits the mill and cattle businesses in Cedarville, which become his responsibility to manage.

 

October

The family, including Anna, decides to live in Philadelphia for two years while various members advance their medical educations. Jane and Alice, who assists Harry in his medical practice in Iowa, enroll in the medical degree program at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania; Harry enrolls in the University of Pennsylvania, seeking additional training towards a second M.D.

1882

March

In March, Harry, Alice and Jane complete their studies for the year [both medical schools have academic years that end in March]; immediately after taking her exams Jane is hospitalized for nervous prostration and back pain; she is treated by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. Anna is also ill. The family decides to move back to Cedarville.

1882

June

Retroactively, now that the trustees have authorized Rockford Female Seminary to award B.A.s, she is awarded one of the schools’ first B.A. degrees.

 

Fall

At his home-based practice in Mitchellville, Iowa, her step-brother/brother-in-law Harry Haldeman, assisted by Alice, performs innovative surgery on Jane’s back to straight her spine. The surgery is successful. She is bound to the bed for several months, and then given a steel-leather cast to wear until her back has fully healed. The surgery forces her to abandon her plan to enroll at Smith College that fall. She decides to visit Europe instead, as her father always wished all of his daughters to do (and that Alice did earlier).

   

1883

March

Jane returns to Cedarville to finish healing and plan the trip to Europe. Two weeks after her return, her brother Weber suffers a second psychotic break and is institutionalized, first in the state hospital for “the insane” in Jacksonville, and later in the state hospital for “the insane” in Elgin for several months.

1883-1885

 

She and her stepmother Anna travel in Europe, at times joined by some of Jane’s seminary friends and their relatives, Anna’s niece, and Jane’s stepbrother George. Jane, discouraged at her failure to earn a medical degree, abandons her plans to become a doctor, but still seeks a way to live philanthropically among the urban poor, whom she has observed closely in Europe. In Rome, visiting the Catacombs, she learns how wealthy and poor early Roman Christians formed an egalitarian community of mutual support, and finds the news inspiring.

1885

Summer

Some six weeks after Anna and Jane return from Europe, Weber has a third psychotic break and is institutionalized at the Elgin State Mental Hospital.

1885-1887

 

She lives with Anna in Cedarville in the spring, summer and fall, and spends the winters with Anna in Baltimore, where her stepbrother George is still studying. But she also travels alone to visit her sisters and other relatives.

1886

 

She reads Leo Tolstoy’s My Religion, a book which introduced her to the idea of nonviolence and that she later wrote changed her life.

1886

Summer

She decides to become a Christian, inspired by the example the early Christians and instructed by Tolstoy, and is baptized in the Congregational Church, Cedarville, IL

1887

 

She reads Tolstoy’s What to Do?, about the Russian aristocrat’s first encounter with urban poverty, and John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women, which argues women’s gifts should determine their life choices.

   

1887 (?)

 

Jane Addams refuses her stepbrother George’s proposal of marriage. George, having failed to complete his Ph.D. and having long had tendencies towards passive withdrawal, gradually becomes a hermit who lives without any occupation with his mother in the Cedarville home.

1887

 

She begins 21 years of service, through 1908, as a trustee of Rockford Seminary, which becomes Rockford College in 1892.

1887

Summer

She reads an article in Century magazine about a new urban philanthropic undertaking called a settlement house that is now operating in London and secretly vows to start a settlement house in Chicago, the largest city in Illinois and the second largest city in the nation.

Late 1887

 

She travels to Europe again, with friends Ellen Gates Starr and Sarah Anderson. In Rome, she plans to study the Catacombs further and, elsewhere, the communally-built cathedrals of Europe. She also hopes to improve her foreign language skills before starting a settlement house in an immigrant neighborhood.

1888

April

At a bullfight in Madrid with Ellen and Sarah, she watches with unfeeling fascination the bloody violent deaths of 6 bulls and many more horses. Afterwards Addams experiences self-revulsion at her fascination with culture and despair over its ability to cut her off from suffering -- in a word, to make her heartless and to sap her determination to act on her philanthropic dreams. She confesses her dream to start a settlement house to Ellen, now a teacher in Chicago at a private girls school, who agrees to join her in the project.

1888

June

She and Sarah visit the world’s first settlement house, Toynbee Hall, in London, England in June 1888; Ellen, busy chaperoning students, visits Toynbee Hall a few months later, once she reaches London. 

1888

July

Jane receives word in England that her stepbrother George has wandered from home and is lost. She decides to leave for the United States immediately, before Ellen Gates Starr arrives in England. George is found walking along a road in Iowa by Harry and the sheriff of Stephenson County and is returned home, where he will remain, aside from a few trips, for the rest of his life.

   
     

II. Jane Addams’s First Ten Years at Hull House 1889-1899

For a note about sources used for the chronology click here.

1889

January

Despite her stepmother Anna’s fierce disapproval, she moves to Chicago to join Ellen and plan to launch a settlement house

1889

Sept. 18

She and Ellen Gates Starr and Mary Keyser (the housekeeper) move into the former Hull mansion on Halsted Street, on the near West Side (now a museum on the campus of the University of Illinois - Chicago) in the 19th Ward of the city, and declare the new settlement house open. The ward is both industrial and residential. Some 44,000 people of 18 nationalities, live and work there.

1889-1935

 

She serves without pay as head resident of Hull House (the name of the settlement is chosen in May 1890). By a few weeks, Hull House is the first settlement house in the United States. A second American settlement house opens in New York City on October 1st. An earlier different experiment, this one in community organizing, the Neighborhood Guild, had opened in New York City in 1886, but did not involve any “house” where the residents lived collectively, though it is sometimes erroneously credited with being the American first settlement house.

1889

Fall

She meets Mary Rozet Smith, 20, a former student of Ellen Gates Starr, who is a volunteer in the kindergarten at Hull House.

1889-1890

 

She becomes involved for the first time in an industrial labor dispute and seeks to resolve it, first by personally, trying to persuade the employer, then by enlisting the help of a judge. She invites a woman trade union labor organizer, Mary Kenney, to visit Hull House, and offer the settlement’s assistance in her organizing work.

1890

December

She gives a major speech at the Chicago Woman’s Club, “Outgrowths of Toynbee Hall.” She gives various versions of this speech around the city and the region, hoping to draw people to join them for a few months as “residents” of the settlement house.

1891

June

The Butler Art Gallery opens, the first Hull House building other than the original mansion.

 

Fall

Hull House gains three new residents: Julia Lathrop, whose family has close ties to Rockford Seminary, Mary McDowell, who will become the first head of the University of Chicago Settlement, and the settlement’s first male resident, Edward Burchard. Hull House was the first coeducational settlement in the world. Lathrop and McDowell would become two of Addams’s closest colleagues in social reform.

 

December

Another future close colleague, Florence Kelley, an experienced social activist and published author, arrives at Hull House.

1892

August

She gives her first two major national speeches at a summer ethics school in Massachusetts, and garners national publicity. Her subject is the subjective (personal) and objective motives for participating in the settlement house movement.

   

1893

February

She goes on her first major lecture tour to settlements and colleges on East Coast. In the years to come she would make an annual lecture tour during winter months.

 

Spring

She lobbies for legislative reform for the first time in her life: despite serious misgivings, she joins Kelley, trade unions and clubwomen in pressing the Illinois legislature for sweatshop reform.

 

Spring

She is chairman of the local committee that is working to organize the American Peace Society Congress at the Columbian Exposition (informally called the Chicago World’s Fair) that will begin May 1st. She is also co-chair of the committee that is working to organize the Congress on Social Settlements at the fair.

 

May-Oct

Jane Addams is extensively involved in the Congresses organized by the Auxiliary Section of the Chicago World’s Fair, formally known as the Columbian Exposition. She gives an address on domestic service at the World’s Congress of Representative Women in May; she proposes, organizes and co-chairs the Congress on Social Settlements, which meets at Hull House in July; gives an address, “Working Women in Two Belated Trades” at the Labor Congress which runs August 28-September 3; chairs the Universal Peace Congress local committee; is a member of the Dept of Religions that guides the efforts to organize the many religion congresses; gives an address on settlements as practical examples of social Christianity at the Evangelical Conference; attends the Parliament of Religions Congress in September; gives an address on “Club Life among Employees” at the Congress on Household Economics” on October 24; attends the Single Tax Congress; hosts the Cooperative Congress at Hull House; and presides over the International Parliament of Sociology conference.

 

August

Hull House opens a second new building, the Gymnasium Building, which includes a coffee house, a diet kitchen, and a men’s club. Visitors to the world’s fair flock to see the famous Chicago settlement house.

 

Summer-fall

The Great Depression of 1893-1897 hits major industrial cities hard. Chicago and New York City have an unemployment rate of 40%.  Workers line up at Hull House seeking jobs and other assistance.  Addams and members of various women’s clubs found the city’s first homeless shelter for women (those the city and charities operate are for men only).

 

November

Addams is named to the Committee of Five to organize the Civic Federation of Chicago.

1894

 

She reads Leo Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is Within You, which contains his most sustained discussion of his ideas of nonresistance.

 

March

Addams is named to the board of directors of the Civic Federation of Chicago

 

May

The Pullman Strike begins when the Pullman Company refuses to negotiate with workers whose wages have been slashed in response to the economic crisis but whose rents have not (2/3rds of the workers are mandated to live in company housing); Addams is named to the Board of Conciliation of the Civic Federation of Chicago, to try to bring the Pullman Strike to mediation.

 

June and July

Addams meets separately with the strikers’ committee and the management of the Pullman Company, persuades the strikers to try mediation, but and fails to bring George Pullman to the mediating table (he refuses to meet with her and refuses to meet with the strikers). Meanwhile, the strike shuts down first the city and then much of the railroad system the nation because other transportation workers go out on strike in sympathy. Workers experience the power of organizing; businesses and other middle class citizens are worried about the nation’s pending economic collapse. Federal troops are sent to Chicago, strikers are charged with violence, and the leader of the union that is supporting the strike, Eugene Debs, president of the American Railway Union, is arrested.

   

 

June

Addams is named to the Sanitation Committee of the Civic Federation and works with the Hull House Woman’s Club, whose membership consists mostly of 19th Ward residents, to file complaints with City Hall about poor garbage removal services.

 

July

Addams’s oldest sister, Mary Addams Linn, dies; Addams becomes the guardian of her three younger children, James Weber, who was a freshman at the University of Chicago at the time, Esther, 13, and Stanley, 11. Weber will graduate from the University of Chicago and become a beloved English professor there, marry and raise a family in Hyde Park. He will write novels, biographies, textbooks, and a regular newspaper column. He will remain close to his aunt, and, with her cooperation, write the first biography of her,Jane Addams: A Biography(NY: Appleton, 1935). After his aunt’s death, in 1938, he will be elected for a term as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. Esther would become closest to another aunt, Laura Shoemaker Addams, while Jane Addams will raise Stanley, who lives at Hull House when not at boarding school, and will become the spiritual grandmother to his four children, for whom she knit shapeless sweaters on her long train rides while lecturing around the country.

 

August

The Pullman Strike ends. Striking workers are not rehired.

 

November

With other members of the Civic Federation of Chicago, Addams helps organize the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration national conference in Chicago, to explore ways to preventing another nation

1895

March 

JA submits a bid to the City of Chicago for the garbage removal contract for the 19th Ward, proposing greatly enhanced services, at increased cost. It is rejected on technicalities.

 

March

The residents of Hull House publishHull House Maps and Papers.

 

 

Hull House Association is incorporated; board of directors is created; Addams is elected president. She is re-elected president every year until her death.

 

April

The newly elected progressive mayor of Chicago appoints Addams as a (paid) garbage inspector of the 19th Ward (where Hull House is located), serving the Department of Public Works. Addams and an assistant will follow the garbage removal wagons on their rounds and out to the city garbage dump three days a week and by their constant monitoring significantly increase the amount of garbage that is removed from the ward on a regular basis.

1895

September

Addams falls ill, and is operated on for appendicitis, although she actually has typhoid fever. She has a long convalescence, spent partly at Mary Rozet Smith’s house. Their already close friendship becomes more intimate and a lifelong commitment to a partnership is forged.

1896

March

She delivers a speech about the Pullman Strike, “A Modern Lear,” for the first time, to the Chicago Woman’s Club.  She would give the speech around the country a number of times in the years to come.

 

March

Hull House, led by Florence Kelley, campaigns against corrupt alderman John Powers but fails to defeat him in his re-election bid. Addams is centrally involved for the first time, now that she understands the link between Powers’ corruption and poor garbage services in the ward. The defeat instructs Addams and Kelley in the great need for immigrant women to have the vote.

 

April

She leaves for Europe, traveling with Mary Rozet Smith and her parents.

 

August

Mary and Jane visit Russia and meet Leo Tolstoy.

 

September

Addams and the Smiths return to Chicago.

1897

February

She gives her first speech on women’s suffrage, in Boston, at a reception of the Massachusetts Women’s Suffrage Association.

 

August

She is appointed postmistress of a substation located at Hull House.

1898

February

She gives the Rand Lectures at Iowa [Grinnell] College

 

 

Sometime between 1894 and 1898 she reads an English edition Leo Tolstoy’s newest book, The Kingdom of God is Within You, which discusses the application of his philosophy of nonresistance to war in greater depth than his earlier books.

 

April

She publishes her study of the local corrupt alderman and machine politics, “Ethical Survivals in City Immorality: A Study of Aldermen” in the International Journal of Ethics.

 

April

The Spanish-American War begins; it ends in August.

 

December

She takes her first public stance against war in a speech about the settlement movement.

1899

April

She gives her first speech about war and peace to the Central Anti-Imperialist League rally in Chicago

   


III. The Progressive Years, 1900-1914

For a note about sources used for the chronology click here.

1899

December

She gives a speech against lynching at the Bethel Methodist Church, Chicago, at an event organized by Ida Wells Barnett.

1900

May

She leaves for Europe with Julia C. Lathrop to attend the world’s fair in Paris, the International Exposition, where she served as vice president of the Jury of International Awards.

 

August

She returns from Europe.

1901

September

President William McKinley is shot. He will die within weeks.

1901

September

She visits a neighbor from the 19th Ward, the nonviolent anarchist Abraham Isaak, who is in jail and offers him legal assistance against false charges that he was part of a conspiracy to assassinate President McKinley.

 

September

Hull House now consists of five buildings. Some 7,000 people come through its doors every week. There are 20 residents. It is frequently visited by famous people and is known around the world.

1902

 

She publishes her first book,Democracy and Social Ethics, based on lectures and essays she had published in the 1890s.

1903

 

She is chair of the Industrial Committee of the Illinois Federation of women’s Clubs and heads up the campaign for the Illinois Child Labor bill, which became law that same year.

 

 

She joins the newly formed National Child Labor Committee (she does not join its board, the Executive Committee) and helps recruit other members; the NCLC will be formally launched in 1904.

 

Fall

She and others co-found the Women’s Trade Union League (later called the National Women’s Trade Union League), with Mary Kenney O’Sullivan, Mary McDowell, head of the University of Chicago Settlement, Lillian Wald, the head of the Henry Street Settlement in New York City, and others. She becomes a member of the board. It is the first national board she has ever served on. The WTUL is a join effort of trade union and leisured women to support labor organizing among women. It is the first national group dedicated to organizing working women.

1904

 

She joins the National Charities and Correction Conference and becomes chair of a new committee.

 

June

She receives her first honorary degree, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the first woman to be so honored. 

 

December

She is the first woman to deliver the convocation address at the University of Chicago.

   

1905

May

She begins four years of service on the Chicago Board of Education; beginning in 1906 she serves as Chair of the School Management Committee.

 

 

She begins a campaign in Chicago to amend the city charter to give women the vote.

 

 

Concerned about the problem of contaminated (nonpasteurized) milk, She serves on the Advisory Committee of the Dairy Department of the newly founded Agricultural Experiment Station.

1906

 

She joins the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, and speaks at the annual meeting, in Baltimore. Florence Kelley joined its board in 1905. Addams begins to lecture widely for suffrage and will do so until 1914.

 

December

She lobbies in the Senate against an immigration bill that will impose a literacy test on immigrants from certain European countries. This is likely the first time she has lobbied at the federal level.

1907

 

She publishes her second book,Newer Ideals of Peace, a book about the ways that American democratic institutions, formal and informal, can be reformed to spread the conditions essential for the self-development and democratic expression of all people. That to her was what peace was, not just the absence of war. In it she calls for the end of “militarism” – the ethic that makes democratic institutions fail  -- and for the embrace of humanitarianism, or cosmopolitanism. She considers the latter the ethic of the future, since it will allow democratic institutions to succeed, and therefore lead to peace in her sense of the term. By militarism she means not only the use of physical force, but also the assumption that some people are “inferior” to others, for whatever “reason.” She credits workers with possessing a vision for the government’s humanitarian role and urges others to embrace that vision.

 

April

She speaks on the “new internationalism” at the First National Peace Congress in New York City.

1908

 

She is named America’s foremost woman by the Ladies’ Home Journal

 

 

She is chair of Chicago Committee on Woman’s Suffrage

 

March

She publicly defends the reputation and actions of Lazarus Averbuch, alleged anarchist assassin of Chicago’s mayor.

 

Summer

She gives a speech at the International Woman’s Suffrage Alliance meeting in London.

1909

February

She chairs the committee that organizes the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s Birth Celebration, which includes W. E. B. DuBois speaking at Symphony Hall.

 

February

Along with some 60 others, she signs a national call to form a new organization to advance the status of African-Americans.

   

 

May

She and other members of the Chicago Peace Society host the Second National Peace Congress, in Chicago.

 

June

She is elected the first woman president of the National Conference of Charities and Correction; as a former president, she will serve on its Executive Committee (board of directors) from 1910 to 1916.

 

Fall

She serves as a member of the Committee of Forty that formally organizes the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) .

 

Early winter

She publishes her third book,The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets. The book captures through stories how the spirit of youth – rebellious, passionate, searching-- manifests itself in a different urban setting. She calls for cities to feed the spirit of youth, rather than smother it.

1910

 

She is named to the board of directors of the NAACP, on which she will serve until her death.

 

January

She undergoes surgery to repair damage done by her previous (unnecessary) surgery for appendicitis.

 

April

She is elected as the first woman (honorary) member of the Chicago Association of Commerce, the city’s prestigious businessmen’s organization.

 

June

She receives an honorary degree from Yale University, and is the first woman to do so. The historic event is widely publicized in the press.

 

November

She publishes a semi-memoir, Twenty Years at Hull-House with Autobiographical Notes.

1911

 

She is elected as the first president of the National Federation of Settlements, a one-year term. She serves on its Executive Committee (board of directors) until her death.

 

 

She is elected first vice president of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association.

 

Fall

She serves as mediator in the Hart, Schaffner, and Marx Strike, Chicago, IL.

 

October

She receives an honorary degree from Smith College.

 

 

She is elected as first vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association; she will serve on the board until 1914. Women have the full vote in 6 out of 46 states, all of them west of the Mississippi River.

1912

 

She publishesA New Conscience and an Ancient Evil, a book written to persuade the public to support the current campaign to end the human trafficking in girls from the countryside or from overseas who are forced into prostitution.

 

June

She leads the NAWSA delegation to the Republican Convention in Chicago.

   

 

August

She is a delegate to the Progressive Party Convention in Chicago; she testified before the Resolutions Committee, objecting to its refusal to seat African-Americans who are members of delegations from certain southern states; she gives a speech at the convention in which she seconds the nomination of Theodore Roosevelt for President.

 

Fall

She is appointed to the Progressive National Committee, and to the Illinois and Cook County Progressive Committees. She campaigns for women’s suffrage (which is on the ballot in several states) and the national Progressive Party ticket in 12, mostly Midwestern, states. Three more states would give women the vote in the 1912 election.

 

November

Woodrow Wilson is elected president of the United States.

 

November

She publishes “A Modern Lear” in the Survey (she is on the editorial board of this journal).

 

December

She is appointed to the board of the Progressive National Service; she is also chair of its Social Industrial Justice Department and she serves on the Legislative Reference Bureau.

1913

Feb

She leaves with Mary Rozet Smith to travel to Egypt and Europe for roughly five months.

 

June

She speaks at the Congress of the International Woman’s Suffrage Alliance, Budapest, Hungary. She returns to Chicago in July.

 

December

The Senate Suffrage Committee reports out the federal women’s suffrage amendment for only the second time in history and the first time in decades. It is a hopeful sign.

1914

June

She gives her “Devil Baby” speech to the Biennial Convention of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, meeting in Chicago.

   


IV. The War Years, 1914-1918

For a note about sources used for the chronology click here.

1914

August

War breaks out in Europe. President Wilson announces that the United States will be a neutral country during the conflict.

 

September

Addams and her progressive colleagues, including Julia Lathrop, Florence Kelley, and Lillian Wald, gather at Henry Street Settlement in New York City to discuss how to respond to the news of the war but can not agree on what to do.

 

December

Addams and others organize a peace rally in Chicago, bringing together representatives from a wide variety of national organizations with local chapters that have peace committees. An historically comprehensive platform of resolutions is adopted and the Chicago Emergency Federation is formed.

 

 

She and Carrie Chapman Catt, a suffrage leader, send out the call for a national peace and women’s rights meeting to take place in Washington, D.C. in January. She encloses a copy of the Chicago Emergency Federation platform with the mailing.

1915

 

She joins the Chicago branch of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a new Christian, mostly Quaker group founded first in Great Britain that seeks an end to war and the use of violence to settle disputes. She soon joins the national board.

 

January

She attends the organizing meeting of the Woman’s Peace Party in Washington, D.C. It adopts a platform strikingly similar to that adopted by the Chicago Emergency Federation. She is elected president of the new organization.

 

February

In Chicago, she and others organize the National, or Emergency, Peace Federation by inviting national representatives of the many national organizations that have peace committees to a meeting. She is elected the federation’s president. (The organization would have another president by 1917, possibly because of Addams’s illness.) The federation adopts nearly the same platform as the Chicago Emergency Peace Federation and the Woman’s Peace Party.

   

 

March

Her sister, Alice Addams Haldeman, 61, dies in Chicago, where she had come from Kansas for medical care, from cancer.

 

April-May

As president of the Woman’s Peace Party, she leads its delegation to attend the First International Congress of Women, the Hague, Netherlands. The Congress adopts a platform strikingly similar to that adopted by the Woman’s Peace Party; she is elected president of the resulting organization, the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace.

 

May-June

She travels with others representing the Congress to capitals of some of the belligerent countries of Europe to present mediation plans to state officials.

 

July

She returns from Europe; she gives speech about her experiences at a peace rally in Carnegie Hall, New York City, in which she makes a controversial remark that seems to suggest that soldiers fighting in the war are cowards. Widespread negative publicity, facilitated by her pro-war critics, results.

 

August

She meets with President Woodrow Wilson at his request to report on her experiences in Europe and gives him a copy of the platform of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace.

 

Fall

She is sick with bronchitis; she meets with Henry Ford in New York City to discuss his plans to support the costs of convening a group of experts and citizens in Sweden to discuss how to organize neutrals conference. Addams plans to go. Ford announces he has hired a ship to transport the delegates, and the Ford Peace Ship soon becomes a target of jeers and criticism among the press and other pro-war advocates. Addams still plans to go. 

 

Fall

Wilson unveils his plans to ask Congress to finance a number of new naval ships and aircraft carriers. The country begins a heated debate over “militarism,” the benefits of having a strong military.

 

December

Back in Chicago she develops pleuro-pneumonia and is hospitalized; she is unable to sail on the Ford Peace Ship to Sweden.

1916

 

She publishesThe Long Road of Woman's Memory, a collection of essays about the different situations in which women re-interpret their memories in order to heal from the pain of past experiences.

 

January

President Wilson makes a nine-day lecture tour to promote the benefits of militarism.

 

February

Addams and Mary Rozet Smith travel to Colorado and California to ease her recovery in better climates.

 

February

The Henry Street Settlement group, now organized into the Anti-Militarism Committee (later renamed the American Union Against Militarism), publishes a manifesto against militarism and undertakes a massive campaign of speeches, meetings and editorials (Addams will join the AUAM board later this year or in 1917).

   

1917

January

Though ill, she testifies to both Congressional committees that the Woman’s Peace Party opposes the large increase in military expenditures.

 

January 22

Wilson gives his “peace without victory” speech, in which he sets out his key principles for peace.

 

January 31st

Germany, angry that the supposedly “neutral” U.S. is supplying Great Britain with arms and supplies, announces it will attack all vessels approaching Great Britain.

 

February

Wilson ends diplomatic relations with Germany. The Emergency Peace Federation lobbies Congress to require a national referendum before the nation could enter war. Addams, still ill, sends supportive telegrams from Chicago.

 

Late February

Addams and four others, the Committee of Five, are sent by the Emergency Peace Federation to meet with Wilson to discuss alternatives to war.

 

March

She convalesces in Florida with Mary Rozet Smith.

 

Early April

She returns to Washington with the Emergency Peace Federation to lobby Congress not to pass Wilson’s war declaration.

 

April 6

The United States declares war on Germany and enters World War I.

 

April-May

Later that spring Congress adopts the Conscription Act and the Espionage Act. During hearings for both the conscription legislation, Addams and others ask Congress to add an exemption for draft age men who have ethical or broadly religious objections to military service (those belonging to certain specific sects are already exempted), without success. During hearings for the espionage legislation, Addams and others ask Congress to clarify that citizens may promote alternatives to war and oppose the draft without being in violation of the Espionage Act, but without success. The nation loses important free speech rights when Wilson signs both laws.

 

April

Addams returns to Chicago, and undergoes surgery for a newly discovered health problem, tuberculosis of the kidney (possibly the result of her childhood bout with Pott’s Disease). Her doctors forbid her to travel. She cancels plans to join the neutrals conference in Stockholm, which is about to hold its first formal gathering.

 

April

Both Theodore Roosevelt, once again a Republican, and Woodrow Wilson seek her endorsement for their respective party’s presidential candidate. After Wilson is nominated that summer, Addams will endorse him, for his domestic policies. 

 

May/June

She delivers the speech, “Patriotism and Pacifists in War Time” in Chicago and Evanston; receives fierce criticism in press and in letters, is called a traitor to her country. Hull House loses donors.

 

Fall

The American Union Against Militarism board and the Fellowship of Reconciliation board – Addams sits on both boards – agree to create a new national Civil Liberties Bureau to fight for free speech and the rights of conscientious objectors. Addams agrees to serve on the new bureau’s board of directors.

 

Fall

She begins lecturing on food conservation nationwide for US Food Administration, sometimes to a hostile reception.

   

 

Fall

The Woman’s Peace Party, split over the question of whether or not to support the nation’s entry into the war, agree to respect members’ different views. The party hibernates until the war ends.

 

November

Woodrow Wilson is re-elected to the presidency.

 

Fall

She opposes new federal and local sedition and espionage legislation; she opposes government practice of jailing conscientious objectors and political prisoners

1918

January 8

Wilson gives his “Fourteen Points” speech to Congress. Many of the points are moderate versions of the various peace platforms Addams had helped shape between 1914 and 1916.

 

January

Wilson endorses the federal women’s suffrage amendment. Within months, Congress passes it and sends it to the states for ratification.

 

March 6

Her brother, John Weber Addams, dies in the Illinois Hospital for the Insane at Watertown.

 

October 18

Her nephew, John Addams Linn, a YMCA chaplain for the Red Cross, dies at the battle of Argonne.

1918

November 11

World War I ends.

 

December 4

Woodrow Wilson and the rest of the American delegation leave for Paris and the peace talks.

   

V. The Conservative 1920s

For a note about sources used for the chronology click here.
   

1919

January

Addams supports diplomatic recognition for the new socialist government in Russia.

1919

January

She is listed on War Department employee Archibald Stevenson’s “Traitors List,” which he presented to Overman Subcommittee of Senate Judiciary Committee. She is charged with having spread German propaganda.

 

April

She travels to Europe. In France she and friends visit the grave of her nephew.

 

May

She presides at Second International Congress of Women, Zurich, Switzerland. The congress has been convened by International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace of which she is president. The gathering adopts resolutions regarding the peace terms that have been recently announced in Paris. The Congress expresses “deep regret” that the treaty violates most of Wilson’s 14 points and that is League of Nations proposal is not strong enough.

 

May

The Congress decides to form a new permanent international body, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Addams is elected as president to serve a two-year term. She will be re-elected every two years until 1929, when she will decline to be re-elected. WILPF’s three goals are to increase goodwill in international relations, increase equality between men and women, and help prepare future generations to work toward the first two goals.

 

 

Addams and several others travel to Paris to present the Congress’s resolutions to the leaders of Great Britain, France, and the United States.

   

 

July

She travels with Alice Hamilton through Germany under the auspices of American Service Committee to deliver food and money to the starving people and learn about postwar conditions.

 

September

The Senate votes down (i.e., refuses to ratify) the Paris Treaty because it includes U.S. membership in the new League of Nations. It will do so two more times in the next several months.

 

September 19

Wilson, 62, on a tour in the west to stir up popular support for the treaty in order to pressure the Senate to approve it, collapses from exhaustion. Soon after, he has a stroke. He is an invalid for months and never recovers his health. He will receive the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize in 1920 (it is awarded late).

 

December

She gives a speech on “Americanization” to an annual meeting of American Sociological Society, Chicago, IL.

 

 

She resigns as president of the Woman’s Peace Party, which votes to become the U.S. Section of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom, and elects a new president.

1920

 

The National Civil Liberties Bureau reorganizes as the American Civil Liberties Union. Addams is named to the board of the new organization and will serve till her death.

 

January

After a series of bombs are exploded in the summer and fall of 1919 by self-described violent anarchists intending to kill or harm government leaders, the Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer launches a fierce campaign to arrest socialist and anarchist immigrants and deport some of them. Addams raises bail for Chicagoans caught in the Palmer raids and protests the violations of their constitutional rights.

 

May

She receives honorary LL.D. from Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN.

 

August

The last required state ratifies the women’s suffrage amendment and it becomes the law of the land.

 

November

She publishes “Feed the World and Save the League,” in New Republic.

1921

July

She presides at Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 3rd International Congress, Vienna, Austria.

1922

 

She publishesPeace and Bread in Time of War, in which she provides a history of the women’s peace movement during the war, an autobiographical perspective on her experiences in those years, and an introduction to the work of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom.

 

June

She is named vice chair of National Council for Reduction of Armaments

   

 

December

She leaves for a world tour with Mary Rozet Smith, to participate in an emergency international congress at The Hague, the Conference for a New Peace, organized by WILPF to seek a revised peace treaty with less harsh terms, to attend an international conference of settlements.

 

Nine months’ journey

Addams and Smith visit Burma, India, the Philippines, Korea, Manchuria, China and Japan to support women’s organizations that wish to organize sections of the WILPF or affiliated organizations. In India she hopes to meet Gandhi but he is in jail, so she misses that opportunity. In Japan she undergoes surgery for breast cancer, and a breast is removed.

1923

September

She returns from her world tour.

1924

May

She presides at Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom, 4th International Congress, Washington, D.C. The War Department organizes a campaign to stir up national fears regarding the pro-peace organization.

 

Fall

She supports the presidential campaign of Robert M. La Follette, Sr.

1925

March-April

She travels to Mexico with Mary Rozet Smith and Lillian Wald

1926

March

She travels in West Indies with Mary Rozet Smith

 

July

She presides at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 5th International Congress, Dublin, Ireland, and has a heart attack.

 

 

She serves on the Executive Committee of the National Council of Social Workers (through 1931)

1927

January

She is honored at a Civic Dinner, Chicago, IL

1928

August

She presides at Pan-Pacific Women’s Association conference, Honolulu.

 

October

She endorses Herbert Hoover for president

1929

 

At 69, she resigns as president of WILPF and is made an honorary president for life.

   


VI. The Unsettled 1930s

For a note about sources used for the chronology click here.

1930

 

She publishes The Second Twenty Years at Hull House, a set of essays that are partially about the settlement’s work with children in the arts and how it educates through current events but mostly about her wider engagements since 1910 – the Progressive Party, the women’s movement, the peace campaign, prohibition, and racism against African-Americans. 

1931

January

She speaks at a national conference in Washington on the cause and cure of war.

 

May

Hull House celebrates, belatedly, its 40th anniversary.

 

May

She receives M. Carey Thomas Award, Bryn Mawr College.

 

December

Addams enters a hospital in Baltimore (where they use a new form of anesthesia thought best for patients with weak hearts) to have an ovarian cyst removed.

 

December

She receives word from the Nobel Committee that she has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first American woman to receive it. She shares it with Nicholas Murray Butler, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

1932

February

Florence Kelley, 71, dies.

 

March

She publishes a collection of her memorial addresses, The Excellent Becomes the Permanent.

 

April

Julia Lathrop, 74, dies.

 

Summer

Addams, not feeling well, has to cancel her planned trip to Norway to give her Nobel Peace Prize lecture.

 

Summer

Both the Republican and Democratic Parties hold their national conventions in Chicago. Addams presents the WILPF peace platform to the platform committees and joins in two peace parades.

   

 

November

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president. Addams has dinner with him before he is elected. After he moves to the White House, she meets with him or sends him letters or telegrams to urge him to take certain positions or to thank him for taking them.

1934

February

Mary Rozet Smith dies of pneumonia.

1935

 

She publishesMy Friend, Julia Lathrop, a partial biography of her friend.

 

May 2

WILPF holds a huge banquet in Washington, D.C. to honor Addams on the 20th anniversary of the founding of WILPF (1915). She seems to be in relatively good health.

 

May 21st

After surgery in Chicago to straighten her colon, during which surgeons found massive colon cancer, she dies from that disease.

 

 

She is buried in Cedarville, in the family plot, beside her mother, father, sisters and brother.

 
Creative Commons LicenseJane Addams: A Chronology (1860-1935) by Louise W. Knight is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.