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Jane Addams sample essay


This biography explores the life of social worker pioneer Jane Addams whose accomplishments continues even today to provide a platform of discussion of issues both past and present. Jane Addams achievements continue to have a significant impact on the Social work field of practice today. Some of the challenges she wanted to overcome was to mandate legislation on a local, state, and federal level, which allowed all people to receive the assistance they needed regardless of race, sex social class or religion. Jane came from a family that was considered well to do, but her desire was to be a selfless giver to the poor, advocate for women’s rights, and to change laws that may help to put an end to poverty. She advocated for laws against child labor, limits working hours of women, mandate schooling for children, and wanted to protect immigrants from exploration. Due to her willingness to fight for the poor she was called a feminist, a lesbian, but she was actually a social reformer, a mover and shaker, and thanks to her laws was changed to protect the poor.

Social Work Pioneers
Introduction of Pioneer

According to Allen (1973), Laura Jane Addams was born in September 6, 1860, in Cedarville, Illinois and died in May 21, 1935. During her life span, Jane grew up during the Civil War and the development of significant innovations such as the origin of species. She experienced a good life since she came from a family of a famous politician and a mill owner named John Addams. Jane’s mother died when in hospital as she delivered her ninth child, living Jane a two year old and others in the care of their father. At an early age of four, Jane developed a disease of tuberculosis of the spine that caused a curving on her back and contributed to health problems during her lifetime.

Jane became close to her father emotionally and intellectually. Although John Addams was not involved in feminism, he provided his daughter a good education by sending her to Rockford Seminary, which was a women’s institution in Rockford Illinois. Jane became the first woman in her family to attend school. During her studies at Rockford, she became empowered by living in a women background, where she gained skills, and became an academic and social leader. She organized an effort to introduce baccalaureate degrees in the school, and got one after serving a class of Valedictorian. After her graduation at Rockford in 1931, her father died of a disease known as appendicitis leaving all his wealth to his children.

Jane Addams had her own religious beliefs and had a strong desire of uplifting Christianity. She had very strong religious perspectives, which were due to numerous experiences in college. At Rockford College, Jane had studied the Bible through her courses, and had gained knowledge regarding the New Testament. Additionally, she was supposed to know a bible verse daily when in college and listen to a daily verse sermon. Presbyterian Church was her main denomination, but she also attended the ethical society in Chicago and the Unitarian Church. She also established a relationship with recognized members of the Jewish community (Allen, 1973).

Politically, Jane Addams was involved in the process of campaigning for Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, during the presidential campaign of the progressive Party. She was also involved in the party platform, despite the fact the party was more dedicated to developing more battleships. By 1915, Jane was elected as the national chairperson to represent women in various capacities. This position required frequent visits to Europe and Asia following World War I. During this period, she visited The Hague, attended the international Women’s Conference, where she was chosen to find a solution that would end the war. In 1917, she joined the fellowship of reconciliation USA, and later the Fellowship Counsel. Pioneers Contribution to Social Work Practice

Settings/Fields of Social Work Practice

Jane Addams had the desire to help people because she believed that she needed to achieve something in the world that would help improve the lives of people. She believed that the world needed to reform and present chances for women to achieve something in their societies. She also believed that mothers should be assisted in different areas such as public health, needs for children, and world peace. These were some of the reasons why she fought for women’s rights to vote. She saw the need for women to be effective and responsible in making effective decisions within the society.

During her visit to Europe, Jane Addams visited Toynbee Hall, which was a pioneering Christian settlement in London. This inspired her towards international prominence. During her visit to the Hall, Jane saw the commitment of young men in helping the poor and encouraging them to live positively. She developed the thought of replicating the Hall settlement in America (Allen, 1973). Upon her return to the United States, Jane founan exceptional place for the building in a poor neighborhood of immigrants in Chicago, and in 1889, the Hull House was opened. The house started operating by allowing the arrival of new immigrants and developing social programs.

The Hull House did not experience any social or political restrictions, which allowed the settlement workers to work properly by responding to the neighborhood needs through the development of projects. The Hull House became widely recognized, which prompted the immigration of well-educated women from different places. Despite the women-identified space, the house also had male students who became successful leaders in the future. At the Hull House Addams played crucial roles such as teaching, documenting illnesses such as typhoid fever, establishing the responsibilities of young people incorporated in the American processes, and presented feminine ideals by educating, and providing the needs of women in the society that the house was established (Katherine, 2004).

Specific Contributions/Awards

Addams became among the respected and recognized individuals within the nation. This led to her association with numerous progressive campaigns that had influence on many people, especially women around the United States. In 1899, Addams was perceived as an activist against war deeds, who developed peaceful movements aimed at restoring peace around the world. Her peaceful movements were recognized after the World War I, when leading peace institutions. She also started to initiate with social justice and began investigating the root causes of social arrests.

During her trips to different countries, Jane met different diplomats, presidents, and civic leaders and was able to express her beliefs about women’s distinctive mission in her country, which was to maintain peace. Because of the peaceful movement efforts, Jane Addams was received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. She was applauded because she was the primary woman in the world to win the prize and for her belief of the need to establish American democracy. After receiving the award, Jane shared her prize money with the other women to assist in covering some of the expenses and facilitate the movement’s mission.


Despite her popularity and influence, Jane Addams faced challenges in her life (Katherine, 2004). For example, immediately after WW1, her belief in the need for maintaining peace and her refusal to encourage the war and the United States participation in the war presented negative response, which made the public angry with her, and her take was viewed as a more gender role transgression that the public could not tolerate. Following this, her popularity declined, and she became a victim of violent gender criticism.

According to Katherine (2004), due to her new role as a social outcast and critic, Addams started to concentrate on patriotism, which was reflected in many of her books and articles, some of which were not printed because she was believed to be anti-American. Although she was highly criticized, Jane never gave up and continued to work on promoting peace through her publications that were focused on peace and war. For example, the publication of many books dedicated to the topic of politics as well as war.


In summary, the Hull House and the Peace Movement were the key pillars of Jane Addams legacy (Katherine, 2004). She dedicated her whole life to help in the development of individuals such as women and their rights in the American society and poor people, especially those living around the Hull House neighborhood. She also contributed to social work, which led to the establishment of the platform for justice that fall under the social work field. Additionally, Hull House presented an opportunity for Jane to work with recognized members of the school of sociology, which enabled her to work through applied sociology and brought social reforms on different levels. Jane Addams also participated in politics by using her influence on people to conduct Campaigns in support of the Progressive Party of Theodore Roosevelt.

Despite the challenges she faced of being viewed as an outcast who was gender biased and an anti- American, Jane Addams never gave up and was still able to influence a lot of people from her former works and through her book publications and speeches that continued to preach about world peace and reforms. Currently, her ideas on different issues such as political, social, and economic reforms still influence some international countries and the United States.

Implications for Social Work Practice Today

According to Social Care Institute for Excellence (2010), currently, social workers have a vital responsibility in creating and implementing social care and support services to individuals. The significant contribution of social work is focused on supporting and promoting control and healthy choices to people who experience life difficulties due to poor backgrounds, mental health issues, physical disabilities, and old age circumstances. Social work practice’s contribution is to ensure that services are personalized and that individual’s rights are maintained through reducing conflicts and supporting people to maintain safety and avoid risks, and acquiring knowledge on applying legislation. Additionally, social work practice involves the development of professional relationships and encouraging people in their families and communities, acquiring practical support and services, and working together to promote positive outcomes for people.

Moreover, implications of social work practice today are based on the essential role of supporting individuals who face life-changing events and working with people whose rights are ignored or abused. Social workers work together to establish a perspective of an individual, instead of assessing their personal negativities or circumstances. This enables social workers to establish a positive solution that presents better outcomes.

This information on social work practice will enable me to practice the anticipated implications of social work directed to social workers. The responsibilities placed on social workers will enable me develop my skills and be able to support people through assessing their needs, options, and circumstances as well as develop support plans and reviews. I will also be able to work with families, improve their health situations, and safeguard people whose rights may be undermined making them vulnerable to abuse. The information is essential because it lays out the roles and experiences that I will be expecting during my professional practice.

Allen, D. (1973). American heroine: The life and legend of Jane Addams. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Brown, V. (2004). The education of Jane Addams. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Katherine, J. (2004). Jane Addams: A writer’s life. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Social Care Institute for Excellence. (2010). Personalisation briefing – Implications for social workers in adults’ services. Retrieved 27 January 2013. From,

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