This chapter focuses on the life and works of author Jane Addams. It tells of the formative years of a person who began life, as most people do, unknown and who became one of America's most accomplished social reformers. Addams's subsequent fame, her reputation as the country's “most admired woman,” and her numerous accomplishments—as a leader in immigrant and labor relations, as an advocate for children, low-income people, civil liberties, and peace, and as a 1931 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize—evoke interest in her youth and young adulthood. While depicting more about Addams's experiences, the book Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy delves into many nineteenth-century developments. These included rapid industrialization, the concentration of wealth, the rise of labor unions, the arrival of millions of immigrants from non–northern European countries, and the expansion of the suffrage to working-class and some African American men but not to women. Jane Addams wrote often and profoundly throughout her life about what people learn from life and how they learn it. She wrote very little about herself in this regard, not even in her famous memoir, Twenty Years at Hull-House (1910). Rather, she used the opportunity it provided her to embody and enact what she had learned.
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