Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Jane Addams: The Most Dangerous Woman in America?

Going through social work school I was taught that Jane Adams was the founder of social work.  She established Hull House in Chicago as a settlement house.  Hull House was like a university for women which provided services to recent immigrants.  They had free lectures and concerts, and classes on different topics of interests.  They advocated for those who were disadvantaged, and in doing this Addams pioneered a whole new profession for women, that of social advocacy or social work.  By 920 there were 500 settlement houses around the nation, some with a secular tradition like Hull House, and others with Christian sponsorship.
However, in the book "The Good, The Bad and the Mad" by E. Randall Floyd, the title refers to Jane Addams as the most dangerous woman in America.  How could this be. J. Edgar Hoover pronounced this label on Jane Addams.  After all, she sought solidarity with those who were down trodden, poor, and of a different race.  She looked to all humanity as being equal.  This article points out that Addams was also an activist and a pacifist.  As the United States entered WWI, she was for staying out of the war, and acted on her beliefs.  Add this to her personal success as a result of her efforts in community organizing and working for the poor, and you have a "dangerous woman."  People went so far as to call her Red or Communist.  She claimed she had no ties to subversive groups.  Over time, and after the war, these things were forgotten.  She is remembered for her contribution to society, and her skill with working with the poor and needy.

1 comment:

  1. Reed Olsen: I've heard Mother Jones was referred to with this title also, before Hoover's time I believe.