Publisher description for Citizen : Jane Addams and the struggle for democracy / Louise W. Knight.


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Jane Addams was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This masterful biography reveals her early development as a political activist and social philosopher in lively detail and with deep appreciation for motive and character. In Citizen, we observe the powerful mind of a woman encountering the radical ideas of her age, most notably the ever-changing meanings of democracy.

The book covers the first half of Addams's life—the years of her becoming—from 1860 to 1899. Louise W. Knight recounts how Addams, a child of a wealthy family in rural northern Illinois, longed for a life of larger purpose. She broadened her horizons through education, reading, and travel, and, after receiving an inheritance upon her father's death, moved to Chicago in 1889 to co-found Hull House, the city's first settlement house. Citizen shows vividly what the settlement house actually was—a neighborhood center for education and social gatherings—and describes how Addams learned of the abject working conditions in American factories, the unchecked power wielded by employers, the impact of corrupt local politics on city services, and the intolerable limits placed on women by their lack of voting rights. These experiences, Knight makes clear, transformed Addams. Always a believer in democracy as an abstraction, Addams came to understand that this national ideal was also a life philosophy and a mandate for civic activism by all.

As her story unfolds, Knight astutely captures the enigmatic Addams's compassionate personality as well as her flawed human side. Written in a strong narrative voice, Citizen is an insightful portrait of the formative years of a great American leader.




Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Addams, Jane, -- 1860-1935.
Women social workers -- United States -- Biography.
Social workers -- United States -- Biography.
Women social reformers -- United States -- Biography.
Social reformers -- United States -- Biography.