Jane Addams of Hull House Essay - Critical Essays

Winifred E. Wise


This immensely readable biography of Addams, treating her life from childhood to her death, reflects a woman’s growth as a thinking, questioning individual. Through selections from her subject’s letters and journals, Wise has provided an authentic biography of Chicago’s most distinguished welfare worker.

The book is authentic, because Addams was interviewed by the author and the resulting manuscript was actually read and approved by Addams. Wise also spoke with members of Addams’ family, gathering letters and helpful personal insights. Classmates of Addams from the Rockford Seminary also took time to be interviewed and to find letters from the past. Finally, Hull-House residents, from early days to the time of the book’s writing, gave generously of their reminiscences and knowledge.

When personal touches are a part of a biography, the material often becomes easier and more enjoyable to read, an important factor for young readers. Wise has made the book readable by including personal stories, such as the adventures of Addams and her stepbrother, George, as they played in the woodlands of Illinois. The young reader will enjoy Addams’ travels through Europe, as she haunted museums on Saturdays looking for the armor of the brave Count Roland. Once, when attending a banquet for Theodore Roosevelt at an exclusive Chicago club, Addams lost her hat. The next day, the club sent her a check for fifty dollars with which to buy a new hat. She...

(The entire section is 556 words.)