Remembering Hull House

By Rena Malai, NEWS Staff

The Hull House agency in Chicago made national headlines in January when it abruptly closed its doors after more than 120 years.

The social services organization, founded by social work pioneer and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams, ran out of money after struggling to raise funds and reduce operating costs for several years in a down economy. About 300 employees lost their jobs and 60,000 people lost the services Hull House provided.

Hull House Museum in Chicago

Although the agency’s closing is a significant loss, the services it offered and the legacy it leaves behind will always be remembered, said Jack Hansan, an NASW Social Work Pioneer® and developer of www.socialwelfarehistory.org.

“Under the leadership of Jane Addams and a cadre of dedicated residents who lived and volunteered in Hull House, the agency became the fountainhead of social welfare reform in the U.S. during the Progressive Era,” Hansan said. “It is a significant loss. However, Hull House and Jane Addams will always be remembered for their contributions to American social welfare programs and policies.”

It seems fitting that an organization that originally offered so many firsts in public service was created by Addams, the first female Nobel Peace Prize winner, Hansan said. The agency housed the first public baths, playground, kitchen, swimming
pool and gymnasium in Chicago, and also offered college extension courses, he said.

From the April 2012 NASW News. NASW members click here for the full story.

2 comments

  1. Shame on Chicago for letting this important institution slip away while we shower hundreds of millions of dollars of public dollars on private companies and developers here for private gain. Shame on the social worker field for letting them go without putting up a fight. Jane would be on the front lines of Occupy and she was an organizer and challenger of power and authority in the service of social justice. She would weep to see what your field has become.

  2. I remember my first time seeing Hull House in Chicago. This is what led me to the field of Social Work.

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