Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) was a pioneer American settlement activist/reformer, social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and leader in women’s suffrage and world peace.
In an era when presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson identified themselves as reformers and social activists, Addams was one of the most prominent reformers of the Progressive Era. She helped turn America to issues of concern to mothers, such as the needs of children, local public health, and world peace. She said that women’s lives revolved around “responsibility, care, and obligation,” and this area represented the source of women’s power. Addams became a role model for middle-class women who volunteered to uplift their communities.
In 1931, she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and is recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the United States.
While her life focused on the development of individuals, her ideas continue to influence social, political and economic reform in the United States as well as internationally.