From Publishers Weekly
Jane Addams (1860–1935) was one of the leading figures of the Progressive era. This "pragmatic visionary," as Knight calls her, is best known as the creator of Hull House, a model settlement house offering training, shelter, and culture for Chicago's poor. Addams also involved herself in a long list of Progressive campaigns. Her rhetorical skills as both speaker and writer made her internationally recognized as a supporter of civil rights, woman suffrage, and labor reform. Using brief quotes and contextual details, Knight (Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy) describes her subject's journey from a Victorian upbringing that stressed family duty through her practice of lofty "benevolence" as a young woman to the confidence to unhesitatingly risk her substantial reputation advocating pacifism during WWI. Her continuing peace activities earned her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, but antagonized many longstanding supporters. In this well-supported and appealing portrait of an iconic American, Knight emphasizes Addams's struggle to redefine Victorian womanhood and claim her right to "possess authority in the public realm" and "exercise authority" as a lobbying feminist who helped women acquire the right to vote. 32 illus.
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Jane Addams’ life story never becomes irrelevant. With the passage of time, her reputation and her remarkable accomplishments have only increased in stature. As the cofounder of Hull House, the first settlement house in America, she gained a level of independence, influence, and respect seldom achieved by a woman in the late nineteenth century. As the twentieth century dawned, Addams began translating her own heartfelt spirit of democracy into both social and political action. In addition to helping the immigrant residents of her working-class Chicago neighborhood, she became a tireless advocate of labor unions, free speech, civil rights, women’s suffrage, and world peace. Knight, the author of Citizen (2006), provides the first full-length biography of Jane Addams in 35 years. She carefully traces Addams’ philosophical progression as she Addams evolvedfrom a passive reformer into an active collaborator, who tirelessly worked with, not for, others to usher in a new era of democracy and social justice. --Margaret Flanagan