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Twenty Years at Hull-House: With Autobiographical Notes
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Twenty Years at Hull-House: With Autobiographical Notes

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  851 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
Adams, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her philanthropic work, tells of her famed settlement house in Chicago's West Side slums at the turn of the century in this Signet classic. This new edition features an Afterward by Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, who examines the current state of settlement houses in America.
Hardcover, 283 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Buccaneer Books (first published 1910)
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Pam She didn't work with young, educated people, She worked with mostly uneducated immigrants to the U.S. The goal of the settlement houses was to…moreShe didn't work with young, educated people, She worked with mostly uneducated immigrants to the U.S. The goal of the settlement houses was to socialize the new groups of people so that they would learn American ways, Another goal was to teach them English.
It is debatable whether the immigrants themselves benefitted more or the helpers who had internal growth as an individual does by helping another human being. I would also say that the community as a whole grew to understand the new groups of people and overcame many of their prejudices against immigrants. The primary example I can think of are the literacy volunteers that are sponsored by many public libraries in the U.S. Many immigrants to the U.S. today are being helped to learn English by these efforts. I'm sure there must be many more examples.(less)
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Community Reviews

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David Schaafsma
This book has been read and reviewed a lot, so this won't really be a review so much as a short reflection. I came to Jane Addams late, after first encountering her sort of peripherally through the guy all educators are introduced to, John Dewey, one of her best friends, who wrote Democracy and Education and Experience and Education and close to 90 other books. One of the greatest thinkers of all time, with great ideas. But I am quite sure he would not have been able to write as he does without ...more
Apr 21, 2014 Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
After reading "Atlas Shrugged" I spent a year in the circle-jerk libertarian mindset. Then I picked up this book and it slapped me silly and told me I was an idiot and completely ignorant of the way the world worked. If I had to pick out one book that made me a better person, it's this one.
Kressel Housman
I first learned of Jane Addams and Hull House when I read the biography of Frances Perkins (FDR’s Labor Secretary and the first woman to serve on the Cabinet) because she got her start in social work as a Hull House resident. The philosophy of the place was to house and serve the poor, but its founder Jane Addams and residents like Frances Perkins lived there, too, without class distinction. Many of the beneficiaries were immigrants and were therefore educated by the American-born residents, but ...more
Frank Stein
Jul 01, 2010 Frank Stein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of this book is simply beautiful. In it Addams provides a strange and insightful look at what it was like to grow up the daughter of a well-off miller in rural Cedarville, Illinois in the 19th century. Surprisingly for a Victorian-era social reformer, she's eminently relatable and self-reflective. She describes in detail things like a nightmare she had as a young girl where everyone in the world was dead except her, and the world depended upon her solitary work as a blacksmith to ...more
Nick Klagge
Jul 23, 2010 Nick Klagge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As with all of my very favorite books, it's difficult for me to put into words what "Twenty Years at Hull-House" meant to me.

Although I am not generally a big annotator, I was kicking myself for checking this out of the library and not having bought my own copy so that I couldn't underline, write notes, etc. At the same time, I couldn't keep myself from reading it until I bought a copy. All in all this was not too upsetting, because I definitely intend to read this book again in the future, pro
She taught the poor Shakespeare, and they loved it. Great work by one of my favorite feminists during an era when feminists were not welcome most places.

Lincoln wrote to Ms. Addams, saying that she and her father were "The double D Addams." Lincoln noticed everything.

I am always surprised when a school is named Jane Addams, and no one seems to know a thing about Jane Addams.

Hopefully, someone at all the schools will fall in love with Jane Addams once her story is uncovered. This book does a g
Feb 26, 2012 Stephen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I truly believe that I should be given some sort of prize for reading this book. It was an incredible bore and many times I found myself half way down the page when, to my chagrin, I would realize I'd been thinking about what I'd make for dinner and I'd have to start all over again at the top. Other times I just plunged ahead. There were a few amusing bits such as when Miss Addams gloats over her achievement of getting Chicago drug stores to stop selling cocaine to children.
Some scattered thoughts: I don't often have a desire to meet authors, even of my favorite books, because I can't imagine what we'd talk about really. But Jane Addams is somehow a different matter - her graciousness shines through her writing and her concerns for each individual among the urban masses, her eye for their potential, whether nourished in wealth or stunted in poverty or vice versa, and her creativity in seeking if not solution, at least amelioration, to struggle or wound.... She was ...more
May 29, 2016 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In the unceasing ebb and flow of justice and oppression we must all dig channels as best we may, that at the propitious moment somewhat of the swelling tide may be conducted to the barren places of life" (44).
While I rate the book a three, I rate Jane Addams herself a five. She was born privileged and after graduating from college and spending time in Europe she felt herself to be useless; all this book knowledge but not doing anything actually of use in the world. She always did want to live among and help the poor and this is what she eventually does. She buys a big house in one of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago and sets out to be of use. This book chronicles the first twenty years of the settl ...more
Sep 04, 2015 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating to read the history of the nation's most prominent settlement house from the point of view of its activist founder. Jane Addams' vision is astounding -- and though she was able to accomplish this because she came from a wealthy, educated family, it wasn't "charity." She listened to the people she served and created programs that would enable them to lead more healthy and dignified lives -- from classes in sanitation, electricity and Shakespeare to English lessons and healthy meals. T ...more
Jun 10, 2012 Cyndi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, historical
Jane Addams looks back on 20 years at Hull House a settlement house in Chicago that she founded to ameliorate the effects of industrialization and immigration. These houses were set up in different cities throughout the country by people who were either rich or had access to money and wanted to dedicate their lives to charity. Addams championed the downtrodden, victimized and oppressed who were taken advantage of by unscrupulous bosses, people and even criminals. Conditions faced by immigrants i ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Claudia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that is as relevant today as the era it chronicles.

It is a Herculean effort fraught with all manner of frustrations to alleviate human suffering in times of economic deprivation.

Just to supply many thousands of people with the bottom rung of Maslow's Hierarchy of needs is difficult, but to educate, enrich the mind and elevate the spirit during times of economic hardship is insuperable.

Throughout the history of the industrialized world humans are caught in a whirlpool of misery while te
Jane Mettee
Aug 16, 2012 Jane Mettee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found an old (1945) copy at a sale. As a public health nurse I have always heard about Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago. Jane Addams with her friend Ellen Starr founded the Hull House in 1989. The purpose was to provide social, public health, and advocacy services to the low income people (mostly immigrants) in the area. Hull House is recognized as the model for social service reform in this country. Accomplishments include improving sanitation (ie:garbage collection and sewage dispos ...more
This tiny little book took me months to get through and I could not usually read more than 10 or so pages in 1 sitting. But, it was very worth trudging through. It is dense, but it is so historically packed with info on the history of social services, labor movements, women's rights, immigration, poverty, democracy, grassroots organizing, and Chicago and the mid-west. The "settlement movement" as it is referred to in the book, encompasses the many social services that exist today, but highlights ...more
Nov 06, 2016 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this, but I'm pretty glad it's over. I was interested in the information, but the prose is awful dense. It was just a slog to get to the meat, and I'm not sure I learned as much as I'd hoped. Interesting time to be reading it though.
Mar 23, 2017 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so interesting and even uplifting to read in this time of Trumpery. She left us an incredible legacy.
A modest, thoughtful look at Chicago's innovative Hull House Settlement as well as a fascinating glimpse into the personal development and accomplishments of Jane Addams. I wound up really liking and relating to Jane Addams as a person--occasionally, her reflections on her own foibles, naivete, and growth are hilarious. And the political and community work done by Hull-House--the empowerment framework in which it was done, before there was the word 'empowerment'-- was astonishing. I should have ...more
I am a great admirer of Jane Addams and her work creating the first settlement house in the United States, Hull-House, for Chicago’s urban poor in 1889. I went into reading this book hoping to learn more about the settlement movement and Ms. Addams’s role as America’s first social worker.

Twenty Years at Hull House was written by Jane Addams because several inaccurate biographies had been written and Addams wanted to ”set the record straight.” In the first quarter of the book Addams inundates the
Apr 10, 2009 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is not light reading, but is not a difficult read, either. I found the material extremely informative and enlightening, especially since I have spent more than 20 years as a State PTA leader. The events of this book overlap and deal with many of the same issues as why the National PTA was founded...child labor issues, poor public education, the importance of the arts, an understanding of other cultures, etc. Jane Addams has long been one of my socio-political heroines. She put into acti ...more
Jul 27, 2016 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
I read Twenty Years at Hull-House due to my interest in the literature of the American Progressive era and in preparation for visiting the Hull-House Museum in Chicago, which I did today after finishing up the book on the train ride over. It was a lovely and informative visit, although I was quite sad that almost every building in the original Hull-House development was destroyed in 1963 to make way for the University of Illinois at Chicago student center. (A seventy-year-old historic community ...more
Aug 13, 2011 Dusty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More than just a chronicle of the first two decades of Hull-House, the experimental social improvement site Jane Addams established in the late 19th century in one of Chicago's many impoverished immigrant quarters, this book is a spirited defense of pluralistic and democratic ideals. It is a plea for world citizens to hold their nations accountable when they run astray of democracy. And unfortunately, though under-served urban neighborhoods are increasingly populated by African Americans and Lat ...more
Aug 20, 2011 Elise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, since Nick read this book about a year ago, and was deeply influenced by Jane Addams's thinking, TYAHH has been on my short list for awhile. Because Addams has become so important to Nick, he's talked about her with me a lot; as a result, reading TYAHH for the first time felt like a familiar experience. Perhaps I'd be giving an additional star if my reading were a mind-blowing first encounter with JA; however, that's not to say that I didn't enjoy the book. My favorite chapters were the on ...more
Jan 22, 2011 Suzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Elise, Meagan, Teri
Recommended to Suzy by: Nick
Reading about the creation and evolution of one of America's greatest "settlements" was very interesting on several different levels. Being in a similar line of work, I was intrigued to note how many differences and similarities there are between serving the poor, mostly immigrant, class one hundred years ago and now. Many of their problems then are their problems now, but one big difference is that it was the likes of Jane Addams who worked hard and took great personal risks to persuade governm ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most amazing women in history, Jane Addams led an extraordinary life dedicated to helping those around her. This beautiful piece is an incredible look into her brainchild, the Hull House in Chicago. It was here that Jane, along with Ellen Gates Starr, reinvented community activism through their fight for equality for the immigrants of the region. This is an in-depth look at the trials and successes she encountered while building her settlement house from the ground up.

The beauty of t
Jan 20, 2012 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book, though often a sluggish read. Addams was a social reformer, after all, but not an artist - her prose is often excessively wordy and awkward, especially when she's describing more abstract topics. But when she writes specific anecdotes about Hull-House residents and associates, the passages are wonderfully vivid and moving. And her discussions of meeting Tolstoy and, later, fighting against claims that Hull-House promoted anarchy (as damning then as an accusation of Com ...more
Pete Davis
Jane Addams is an American legend. She should be on the $20 bill. Here she shares her experience running her flagship "Settlement House" - a social center, a direct service HQ, a cultural hub, and a civic laboratory --
for two decades at the turn of the century. There are some timeless civic engineering lessons and insights into urban life a hundred years ago, but it's buried underneath much era-specific filler. However, it's worth a read just to be inspired by Jane Addams' vision and humane mora
Larry Bassett
Aug 28, 2016 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hull House was a Settlement house in Chicago at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It was a rather large collection of buildings in the immigrant and low income section of the city. Jane Addams was the moving force of the house. They reached out to the immigrant and working class. This book covers many of the educational and civic activities that were organized by and happened at the house. This is an impressive story of people doing impressive work.
Jean Sheldon
Jul 23, 2013 Jean Sheldon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable book, written by a remarkable woman. Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr understood that everyone has something to offer society. They succeeded in helping newly arrived immigrants adjust by listening to and learning from those they were trying to help. 'Twenty Years at Hull House' is an opportunity to see how in the struggle for freedom and equality, some things have changed, and some continue to challenge the evolution of humanity.
Jan 12, 2013 Juliet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A chronicle of the first twenty years at Hull-House through Jane Addams' words and experience, this book is a remarkable record of an imperfectly beautiful social movement. Told humbly but with much detail and feeling, the text was a bit challenging and dry at first but once I warmed to it, I couldn't put it down. More to ponder, especially in comparison to our lives today and how far, or not, we've grown.
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Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois. Her mother died when she was two, and she was raised by her father and, later, a stepmother. She graduated from Rockford Female Seminary in 1881, among the first students to take a course of study equivalent to that of men at other institutions. Her father, whom she admired tremendously, died that same year, 1881.

Jane Addams attended Woman's Medical Co
More about Jane Addams...

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“In the unceasing ebb and flow of justice and oppression we must all dig channels as best we may, that at the propitious moment somewhat of the swelling tide may be conducted to the barren places of life.” 30 likes
“Perhaps nothing is so fraught with significance as the human hand, this oldest tool with which man has dug his way from savagery, and with which he is constantly groping forward.” 7 likes
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