Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Few Good Women Part 1

After reading most of Lillian Faderman's "To Believe in Women:What Lesbians Have Done For America-A History," I'd like to highlight a few women that I believe are unsung, outstanding pioneers in American History.

1.Jane Adams (1860-1935).

This remarkable woman was a social reformer and philanthropist extraordinaire. She is most known for founding the Hull House in Chicago, in 1889, a community 'settlement' house. Hull House was innovative for the times, and Adams' services were a front-runner for later community opportunities, such as adult education evening classes and daycare. During the FDR administration, many of Adams' ideas contributed to New Deal policies. Hull House provided classes, a soup kitchen, a gym, library, childcare, a swimming pool, and art gallery to the poorer communities in Chicago. It is still in existence today. Upper middle class, educated women would stay at Hull House, volunteering their money and time. This opened up 'career' opportunities for women in the 1880's, that later became the field of social work.

Jane Adams was also an avid social activist, fighting for the rights of many. She was intricately involved in child labor laws, women's suffrage, immigrant rights, and was a member of NAACP. Adams was also a peace activist during W.W.I. She chaired and founded many organizations, such as "The Women's International League of Peace and Freedom." Needless to say, Jane Adams was vehemently attacked and accused of Communism, Socialism, etc. Her intimate relationships with other women and her 'spinsterhood' also left her open to ugly criticisms. Still, her lifelong dedication to a better society was rewarded and recognized in her later years. In 1931, she was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Hail to this great American heroine!

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