Jane Addams Essay, Research Paper
Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois on September 6, 1860,and the
eighth of nine children. Her father, John Addams, was a prosperous miller
and local political leader who served for sixteen years as a state senator
and fought as an officer in the Civil War, he was a friend of Abraham
Jane’s mother dies when she was only two. Her father remarried and her new
stepmother brought along two new stepbrothers to add to the already large
family. With the fact of Jane’s mother passing away she was especially
devoted to her father, her father became her idol (Jane 1). He taught her
tolerance, philanthropy, and strong work ethic (Biography 2). He encouraged
her to pursue higher education but not at the cost of losing her femininity
and the prospect of marriage and motherhood (Biography 2). She was born
Laura Jane Addams and was named after Mrs. Laura Jane Forbes, an intelligent
young woman who had taught private school in the village before she married
Colonel H.C. Forbes. Soon her siblings were calling her Jenny: for most
“Jane’s” were “Jenny’s” then, so soon after the gala concert tour of Jenny
Lind, “the Swedish Nightingale.” When Jenny was 2 years old she was still
sleeping with her mother, who died while giving birth to her ninth child.
This brought great sorrow to the town of Cedarville because Jane’s mother was
very well liked in the town, usually being the first to the bedside of the
sick or invalid and a great comfort to all of the townspeople (Wise, 16).
Although Jane’s mother lost 4 children at a very young age she had five
healthy ones survive. The oldest was Mary, who cared for all the children,
then Martha, Webber, Alice, and Jenny the baby of the family (Jane). When
their father went to Springfield for the state legislature Mary wrote to him
often telling him about the children and the quickly spreading scarlet fever.
In one such letter Jane wondered when her thumb would grow as long as she would
other fingers (Wise, 17). A later letter from Mary carried the grave news
that Jane was struck with Typhoid fever and tuberculosis of the spine. This
left her dark, curly hair straight and her body fragile and emaciated. Jane
loved her family but was especially attached to her father. She was often
found trying to be just like her father by rubbing things on her fingers to
get a “mill thumb” like her father had.
Jane attended the Rockford Seminary for young ladies and excelled in her
studies. She developed very strong leadership traits and her classmates
admired her and followed her examples (Biography 1). In 1881, Jane graduated
form the Rockford Female Seminary. She was valedictorian of her class of 17
(Biography 1). Jane then decided that she wanted to pursue a degree in
medicine. This choice caused a great stir in the Addams household. Her
parents felt that she had had enough education and they were concerned that
she would never get married or have a family, which this was expected of all
upper-class young ladies at that point in time. Jane became despondent. She
was striving for more out of her life. She believed that if her brother s
could have careers in medicine and science, why not her?
Jane hated household duties. Getting married or raising children did not
appeal to her at all. With this Jane had more reasons to pursue her
education, but her family thought the exact opposite.
Therefore, Jane’s parents tried to think of a plan to get Jane’s mind off of
her education. Resulting in that Jane’s parents took Jane and her friends on
a grand tour of Europe for a year or two. They thought that perhaps Jane
would settle down a little and realize that her duty was to marry and have a
During this time period Jane began to show signs of illness. It was probably
sue to the stress and pressure she felt form her parents…
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