Jane Addams is best known as the founder of Hull House in Chicago, one of
the first social settlements in North America. During a trip to Europe in
1887-88 with Ellen Gates Starr, she was inspired by a visit to the Toynbee Hall
settlement house, founded in 1884. Toynbee Hall was located in Whitechapel, the
area east of the City of London that would become notorious for the exploits of
Jack the Ripper beginning in August, 1888.
Returning to the United States, Addams and Starr acquired a large vacant
house that had been built by Charles Hull, renaming it Hull House. This would
grow to a settlement that included thirteen buildings and a camp near Lake
Geneva, Wisconsin. In 1910, the year that Twenty Years at Hull House was
published, she became the first woman president of the National Conference of
Social Work. In 1920, she was instrumental in the founding of the American Civil
Liberties Union. For these and many other endeavors, she was awarded the Nobel
Prize for peace in 1931, along with Nicholas Murray Butler.