Pioneer for peace and social justice

Today, September 6, is the birthday of social reformer Jane Addams, who was born in Cedarville, Illinois in 1860. On a trip to Europe, she visited a settlement house in London where more well-to-do people lived with residents in a poor neighborhood. This new way of helping the poor impressed Addams so much that on her return, she leased a large house in a low income area in Chicago and established Hull House which still exists today. In less than two years, over 2,000 people had visited Hull House and many used their services which eventually included not only child and health care but also a kindergarten, a social club for older kids, an art gallery, gym, library and labor museum.

Addams was also a champion for women's rights and peace, opposing the U.S. entrance into World War I. She founded what later became the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. One of their missions was to establish, in conjunction with The Jane Addams Peace Association a children's book award for a book that exemplifies Addams's ideals of international peace and justice. One of the winners of the 2009 award is Planting the Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola. Addams won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.