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In this book, Jane Addams was trying to get her readers to understand the social and economic problems faced by the poor in Chicago (and, by extension, in the rest of the country).
Jane Addams was one of the founders of the settlement house movement during the Progressive Era. Settlement houses were set up by middle class women like Addams as a way to help poor, usually immigrant, people deal with their problems and (hopefully) improve their lives. Addams wrote this book to publicize the problems that her clientele faced so that people would push the government to enact progressive legislation that would help the poor.
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