from The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize: public health worker, community organizer, and social activist Jane Addams, born to a wealthy Quaker family in Cedarville, Illinois, 150 years ago today (1860).
She suffered from depression and went to Europe, thinking it would help. She visited a settlement house in London, a place that offered social services to the poor. She was deeply impressed by it, and after founding an experimental house like this in England, she returned to the states to establish one on the South Side of Chicago in the 19th Ward, a neighborhood full of poor immigrants from Russia, Greece, Italy, and Germany. It was in an abandoned mansion formerly owned by , and so she called it . It had a communal kitchen, a day care, a library, and a little bookbinding business.
Women boarded at Hull House, and it was also a neighborhood center, a performing arts center, and a space where book club meetings and classes were held. Two thousand people showed up each week from the area, and Hull House grew to add a dozen more buildings. Addams wrote about it in some of her books, including Twenty Years at Hull House (1910).
Addams was a leader in the women's suffrage movement, fought for immigrants' rights, and lobbied for labor reform. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
She's the author of several books, including The Spirit of Youth and the (1909) and Peace and Bread in Time of War (1922).