The first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, on December 10, 1931, was Jane Addams, a social worker and pioneer in helping people in poverty. She came from a wealthy family but chose to dedicate her life to helping individuals dealing with poverty. During college, she was an excellent student but found herself becoming

Hull-House, Chicago, Illinois.

depressed after graduation because she felt that there were no places for educated women in the United States. She wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, but she wasn’t sure where to begin. After visiting London and witnessing the conditions of the poor in England, she decided to return to her home state of Illinois to open a settlement house in Chicago for poverty-stricken residents. The building she opened was known as Hull-House, and it housed up to 2,000 citizens per week. Hull-House was much more than shelter, though. In the mornings, kindergarten classes were held, and in the afternoons, sports and activities were provided for older children. Over time, Addams added an art gallery, a gym, a swimming pool, a music school, a library, and an employment bureau to her initiative. She gave impoverished people opportunities that they probably never would have had without her help. Throughout her life, she championed many social justice leagues and continued to advocate for those in poverty. Addams set the standard for the level of care that today’s social workers hope to emulate for their clients.


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