“The Education of Jane Addams” by Victoria Bissell Brown

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From the book’s webpage:

…”In its sharp departure from standard Addams lore, The Education of Jane Addams challenges the received image of America’s premier pacifist and urban reformer. While urging respect for Addams’s autobiography in its delivery of emotional truths, Brown argues for a careful reexamination of the evidence of her life, one that realistically embeds her experience in a particular time and place, and in a particular set of gender, class, and emotional constraints. This thought-provoking new account draws deeply on previously unexamined sources. Addams emerges from this examination as a smart, determined young woman who fashioned a vibrant civic career after she cast off Gilded Age fantasies of individual heroism and folded her ambition for herself into the Progressive Era’s drive for democracy.

“The Education of Jane Addams traces, with unprecedented care, Addams’s three-decade journey from a privileged prairie girlhood through her years as the competent spinster daughter in a demanding, fatherless family to her early seasoning on the Chicago reform scene. It weaves her spiritual struggles with Christianity into her political struggles with elitism and her emotional struggles with intimacy. Finally, it reveals the logic of her journey to Chicago and makes biographical sense of the political and personal choices she made once she arrived there. The founder of Chicago’s Hull-House and, later, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is portrayed here as a complicated young woman who summoned the energy to pursue public life, the honesty to admit her own arrogance, and the imagination to see joy in collective endeavor.”

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