NEW IPO Logo - by Charles Larry Home Search Browse About IPO Staff Links

C U R R I C U L U M    M A T E R I A L S
Bruce D. Jam


Main Ideas
America is a nation of immigrants, and the immigrant experience is as varied as America itself. However, the American dream was not something that was readily attainable for the vast majority of those who came to America in the nineteenth century. Poverty, fear, and exploitation faced many of these newcomers. In most cities across America, immigrants were packed into segregated neighborhoods where government services were lax, and neighborhoods were prone to unscrupulous landlords and politicians. Social Darwinism was the ideology of the day, and many people believed that these "new immigrants" were unworthy of the American dream. On the south side of Chicago a seed was planted that attempted to change this attitude. It was Jane Addams who helped Americans recognize the need for social services to help the poor and impoverished. Through Hull House, the basic foundations were laid for the modern social service network.

Connection with the Curriculum
These activities are designed for U.S. history classes and work well with units on the immigration and the Progressive Era. In addition, these activities can be incorporated into existing curricula in Illinois history or general social science. The activities may be appropriate for the Illinois Learning Standards 16.A. 2C; 16. A. 3b; 16. A. 5a; 18. A.3; 18. B. 3a; 18. B.3b; 18.C.3b; 18. A. 4.

Teaching Level
Grades 9-11

Materials for Each Student
A copy of the narrative portion of this article
Copies of the handouts
Internet access

Objectives for Each Student
Describe the life of Jane Addams and how Hull House helped immigrant communities in Chicago
Identify problems faced by immigrants in America, both past and present
Recognize how Jane Addams addressed the problems of poverty in America


Opening the Lesson

America has been called "A Nation of Immigrants." Some refer to America as the "Great Melting Pot." Regardless of these terms, America has had a love-hate relationship with immigrants. Immigrants provided the basic workforce that built this country during the Industrial Revolution. On the other hand, cultural ignorance caused fear and apprehension among America's native-born citizens-something that continues to this day.

At the opening of the lesson, read the Emma Lazarus poem, "The New Colossus," which adorns the base of the Statue of Liberty:


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Discuss this poem with the class. What attitude does the poem have towards immigrants? Why is this poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty? Do the ideals contained in this poem live on today? Why or why not? How does the average American view immigrants in America? What contributions have immigrants made to American history and culture?

Then, write the word "xenophobia" on the board. Ask students what this word means. After eliciting responses, tell them that xenophobia is a fear of immigrants. Why do some people fear immigrants? Discuss with class.

The immigrant experience in America is varied. However, immigration to America in the late-nineteenth century was marked by poverty, and this poverty was representative of the slums in which immigrants were forced to live. The slums proved to be a major problem in these fast-growing cities. To make matters worse, inadequate government and corruption often contributed to the problems.

At this point, you may want to show a clip from the movie West Side Story. Show the scene in which Bernardo and Anita sing "America." The men sing about the negative aspects of being an immigrant in America, while the women sing about the positives. Have the students make a list of the pros and cons of being an immigrant in America.

Discuss the negative attributes of immigration that were mentioned in the movie clip. Ask the students what could be done to overcome those problems.

Jane Addams was one who recognized the problems that immigrants faced. In her native Chicago, she attempted to do something about it by opening up a settlement house in one of the worst slums in Chicago. She believed that it was the duty of society to provide services to the poor so that they can better themselves and perhaps live out the American dream. Today, Jane Addams's vision lives on, and the ideals of Hull House still influence communities not only in Chicago, but across the world.

Developing the Lesson
The lesson is divided into four activities.

Activity 1 is to be used in conjunction with the article "Jane Addams and the Immigrants." Distribute the worksheet along with the article. The worksheet focuses not only on vocabulary, but also requires the students to graphically organize the main ideas contained within the article. Time: one class period or for homework.

Activity 2 is an internet scavenger hunt. Give each student a copy of the activity and explain that they need to go to each of the websites listed to answer the questions. If you are taking an entire class to a computer lab, it is advisable to divide the class into groups and have the groups start at different parts of the assignment. Sometimes, when too many people are accessing a particular site, the site slows down dramatically. Have some students start at the end of the assignment, some at the beginning. Time: one or two class periods.

Activity 3 is an excerpt from Jane Addams's biographical description of Hull House. Have students read the excerpt aloud or to themselves. Students should then define the vocabulary words and answer the questions. Time: one class period or for homework.

Activity 4 takes Jane Addams out of the context of Hull House and onto the world stage. In 1931, Jane Addams received the Nobel Peace Prize; the first American woman to do so. The speech from a member of the Nobel Committee describes the reasons why Jane Addams is deserving of such an award. Have students read the excerpt aloud or to themselves. Time: one class period or for homework.

Concluding the Lesson
Discuss the main ideas found within the activities. Here are some questions that can be used to discuss the main points of the lessons:

1. How was the Hull House view of immigrants different from that of most Americans?

2. Immigrants leave their native lands for many reasons and those in the area surrounding Hull House were no different. List and discuss the many reasons why immigrants came to America.

3. In what ways do Jane Addams's ideals live on in America? Has America lost any of those ideals? Explain.


Jane Addams and students

Extending the Lesson
Have students compare the experiences of those at Hull House to other settlement houses in America. Have students read excerpts from How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis to get a view of slums in New York City.
Have students write an obituary for Jane Addams.
Pretending to be an immigrant living in the Hull House neighborhood, have students write a letter home describing the conditions in their neighborhood and what Hull House is doing for them.
Invite a social worker to talk to the class about social work in general. Then, have the students discuss the influence Jane Addams had in the creation of the social work field.
Have students research their congressman's/woman's position on immigration. Then, have them speculate as to how Jane Addams would feel about their position.

Assessing the Lesson

After completing the activities included in the lesson, students should have absorbed much information, not only on Jane Addams and Hull House, but also on immigration in the United States. Students can write an in-class essay concerning the life and works of Jane Addams using examples from the readings and activities. In addition, students can imagine that Jane Addams is alive today. What would she say and do about contemporary poverty in America? Alternatively, the included activities can be assigned and graded.


Part 1: Vocabulary The following words you will find in the article. Using a dictionary, define each term.




Part 2: Hull House Flow Chart

In each box below, fill in appropriate information from the article.

Hull House
List activities that were conducted at Hull House:




Greek Community

List Characteristics:




Location in relation to Hull House:

Jewish Community

List Characteristics:




Location in relation to Hull House:

Italian Community

List Characteristics:




Location in relation to Hull House:


Today, you will be examining the life of Jane Addams and Hull House on the internet. For each section below, follow the directions.

Go to :

Jane Addams Hull House Museum

To answer the following questions, you will need to click through the various sections of the site. Be sure to click on "Biography of Jane Addams" and "Chronology of Jane Addams."

1. Where is Hull House located? _________________

2. When was it made compulsory to attend school in Illinois? _________________

3. When did Jane Addams receive the Nobel Peace Prize? _________________

4. Who helped Jane Addams found Hull House? _________________

5. List several services Hull House provided to the neighborhood:

6. Now, click on the link "List of Hull House Firsts." Read based on that list.

Go to :

Hull House Association Website

Click on "About Jane Addams." Read the text.

7. List 10 characteristics of the Chicago Westside neighborhood at the turn of the century.

8. Summarize the 3 basic principles of Hull House:


Go to :

Swarthmore College Peace Exhibit

9. Look through the list of photographs. In a short paragraph, describe Hull House based on what you see.

Go to :

Chicago Historical Society

Read the letter carefully and answer the following questions.

10. What is the purpose of the letter?

11. Who do you suppose Mrs. Hart is?

12. What does this letter tell you about Jane Addams and Hull House?

Go to :

Bartleby Quotes Online

Do a search of quotations by Jane Addams. Look through the results and pick one quote you think best represents Jane Addams and Hull House. Do not automatically choose the first quote you see! Write the quote below and explain why you chose the quote. What does the quote tell you about Jane Addams?


Below you will find an excerpt from Jane Addams' book, Twenty Years at Hull-House.
Read the excerpt and answer the questions.

Halsted Street has grown so familiar during twenty years of residence that it is difficult to recall its gradual changes,-the withdrawal of the more prosperous Irish and Germans, and the slow substitution of Russian Jews, Italians, and Greeks. A description of the street such as I gave in those early addresses still stands in my mind as sympathetic and correct.

Halsted Street is thirty-two miles long, and one of the great thoroughfares of Chicago; Polk Street crosses it midway between the stockyards to the south and the shipbuilding yards on the north branch of the Chicago River. For the six miles between these two industries the street is lined with shops of butchers and grocers, with dingy and gorgeous saloons, and pretentious establishments for the sale of ready-made clothing. Polk Street, running west from Halsted Street, grows rapidly more prosperous; running a mile east to State Street, it grows steadily worse, and crosses a network of vice on the corners of Clark Street and Fifth Avenue. Hull-House once stood in the suburbs, but the city has steadily grown up around it and its site now has corners on three or four foreign colonies. Between Halsted Street and the river live about ten thousand Italians-Neapolitans, Sicilians, and Calabrians, with an occasional Lombard or Venetian. To the south on Twelfth Street are many Germans, and side streets are given over almost entirely to Polish and Russian Jews. Still farther south, these Jewish colonies merge into a huge Bohemian colony, so vast that Chicago ranks as the third Bohemian city in the world. To the northwest are many Canadian-French, clannish in spite of their long residence in America, and to the north are Irish and first-generation Americans. On the streets directly west and farther north are well-to-do English speaking families, many of whom own their own houses and have lived in the neighborhood for years; one man is still living in his old farmhouse.

The policy of the public authorities of never taking an initiative, and always waiting to be urged to do their duty, is obviously fatal in a neighborhood where there is little initiative among the citizens. The idea underlying our self- government breaks down in such a ward. The streets are inexpressibly dirty, the number of schools inadequate, sanitary legislation unenforced, the street lighting bad, the paving miserable and altogether lacking in the alleys and smaller streets, and the stables foul beyond description. Hundreds of houses are unconnected with the street sewer. The older and richer inhabitants seem anxious to move away as rapidly as they can afford it. They make room for newly arrived immigrants who are densely ignorant of civic duties. This substitution of the older inhabitants is accomplished industrially also, in the south and east quarters of the ward. The Jews and Italians do the finishing for the great clothing manufacturers, formerly done by Americans, Irish, and Germans, who refused to submit to the extremely low prices to which the sweating system has reduced their successors. As the design of the sweating system is the elimination of rent from the manufacture of clothing, the "outside work" is begun after the clothing leaves the cutter. An unscrupulous contractor regards no basement as too dark, no stable loft too foul, no rear shanty too provisional, no tenement room too small for his workroom, as these conditions imply low rental. Hence these shops abound in the worst of the foreign districts where the sweater easily finds his cheap basement and his home finishers.

The houses of the ward, for the most part wooden, were originally built for one family and are now occupied by several. They are after the type of the inconvenient frame cottages found in the poorer suburbs twenty years ago. Many of them were built where they now stand; others were brought thither on rollers, because their previous sites had been taken by factories. The fewer brick tenement buildings which are three or four stories high are comparatively new, and there are few large tenements. The little wooden houses have a temporary aspect, and for this reason perhaps, the tenement


house legislation in Chicago is totally inadequate. Rear tenements flourish; many houses have no water supply save the faucet in the back yard, there are no fire escapes, the garbage and ashes are placed in wooden boxes which are fastened to the street pavements. One of the most discouraging features about the present system of tenement houses is that many are owned by sordid and ignorant immigrants. The theory that wealth brings responsibility, that possession entails at length education and refinement, in these cases fails utterly. The children of an Italian immigrant owner may "shine" shoes in the street, and his wife may pick rags from the street gutter, laboriously sorting them in a dingy court. Wealth may do something for her self-complacency and feeling of consequence; it certainly does nothing for her comfort or her children s improvement nor for the cleanliness of anyone concerned. Another thing that prevents better houses in Chicago is the tentative attitude of the real estate men. Many unsavory conditions are allowed to continue which would be regarded with horror if they were considered permanent. Meanwhile, the wretched conditions persist until at least two generations of children have been born and reared in them.

In every neighborhood where poorer people live, because rents are supposed to be cheaper there, is an element which, although uncertain in the individual, in the aggregate can be counted upon. It is composed of people of former education and opportunity who have cherished ambitions and prospects, but who are caricatures of what they meant to be "hollow ghosts which blame the living men. " There are times in many Lives when there is a cessation of energy and loss of power. Men and women of education and refinement come to live in a cheaper neighborhood because they lack the ability to make money, because of ill health, because of an unfortunate marriage, or for other reasons which do not imply criminality or stupidity. Among them are those who, in spite of untoward circumstances, keep up some sort of an intellectual life; those who are "great for books," as their neighbors say. To such the Settlement may be a genuine refuge.

(From: "Chapter V: First Days at Hull-House." Twenty Years at Hull-House with Autobiographical Notes, by Jane Addams. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1912, p. 89-112.)

Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper.

1. Vocabulary words. Provide a definition for each of the following words:


2. How does Jane Addams feel about local government?

3. What are the conditions like in the area around Hull House?

4. What is the "sweating" system?

5. Describe the basic tenement found in the slums of Chicago.

6. Other than those who were poverty-stricken, who else did the Hull House settlement help?


Below you will find an excerpt from a speech given by Halvdan Koht announcing Jane Addams as one of the winners of the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize. Read the speech and answer the questions.

In honoring Jane Addams, we also pay tribute to the work which women can do for peace and fraternity among nations....

We must nevertheless acknowledge that women have not altogether fulfilled the hopes we have placed in them. They have allowed too much scope to the old morality of men, the morality of war. In practical politics we have seen too little of that love, that warm maternal feeling which renders murder and war so hateful to every woman. But fortunately we have seen something of this feminine will which revolts against war. Whenever women have organized, they have always included the cause of peace in their program. And Jane Addams combines all the best feminine qualities which will help us to develop peace on earth.

Twice in my life, once more than twenty years ago and now again this year, I have had the pleasure of visiting the institution where she has been carrying on her lifework. In the poorest districts of Chicago, among Polish, Italian, Mexican, and other immigrants, she has established and maintained the vast social organization centered in Hull-House. Here young and old alike, in fact all who ask, receive a helping hand whether they wish to educate themselves or to find work. When you meet Miss Addams here - be it in meeting room, workroom, or dining room -you immediately become poignantly aware that she has built a home and in it is a mother to one and all. She is not one to talk much, but her quiet, greathearted personality inspires confidence and creates an atmosphere of goodwill which instinctively brings out the best in everyone.

From this social work, often carried on among people of different nationalities, it was for her only a natural step to the cause of peace. She has now been its faithful spokesman for nearly a quarter of a century. Little by little, through no attempt to draw attention by her work but simply through the patient self-sacrifice and quiet ardor which she devoted to it, she won an eminent place in the love and esteem of her people. She became the leading woman in the nation, one might almost say its leading citizen. Consequently, the fact that she took a stand for the ideal of peace was of special significance; since millions of men and women looked up to her, she could give a new strength to that ideal among the American people.

And when the need became more pressing than ever, she Inspired American women to work for peace on an international level. We shall always remember as one of the finest and most promising events during the last great war, the gathering of women from all over the world, even from enemy countries, who met to discuss and pursue common action for world peace. The initiative for this conference, which took place at The Hague in April of 1915, came from the Dutch women, and it is only right to pay tribute to the memory of Dr. Aletta Jacobs who stood at their head. But it was natural that they should ask Miss Addams to come to preside over their conference. From the moment the war broke out, she had launched a propaganda campaign, with the aim of uniting America and the other neutral countries to end the war, and had succeeded in forming a great organization of women to support this program. So it was that she energetically opposed the entry of the United States into the war. She held fast to the ideal of peace even during the difficult hours when other considerations and interests obscured it from her compatriots and drove them into the conflict. Throughout the whole war she toiled for a peace that would not engender a new war, becoming, as she did so, the spokesman for the pacifist women of the world. Sometimes her views were at odds with public opinion both at home and abroad. But she never gave in, and in the end she regained the place of honor she had had before in the hearts of her people. Devotion to a cause always inspires respect, and in her devotion Miss Addams is truly American. This very year she joined with representatives of countries all over the world to call for general disarmament.


1. For what reasons did Jane Addams receive the Nobel Peace Prize?

2. What war was Jane Addams against?

3. How did her work at Hull House prepare her for further pacifist activities?


Key: Activity 1

Aberration: something that deviates from what is considered right or true
Burghers: citizen of a town; official
Dialectic: a logical debate
Didactic: instruction
Exploitation: to take advantage of
Ghetto: a section of a city restricted to Jews
Malaise: a feeling of discomfort or uneasiness
Pacifist: someone who doesn't believe in fighting or war
Pogroms: planned persecutions and massacres of Jews
Slavic: of or pertaining to Slavs; from a region in Eastern and Southeastern Europe
Hull House Activities: Plays, dances, hygiene classes, infant care, nutrition, physician training
Greek Community: Took English classes, used gymnasium for marching and drilling; saw Hull House as a "home away from home," put on Greek plays; location to the north of Hull House
Jewish Community: 50,000 Jews came to the neighborhood, crowded, ethnic shops and bakeries, pushcart peddlers, training ground for businessmen; location to the south of Hull House
Italian Community: 31 different organizations used Hull House, celebrated folk holidays, read Italian literature; location to the West of Hull House

Key: Activity 2

1. Polk and Halsted streets
4. Ellen Gates Starr
5. Kindergarten, daycare, employment bureau, cooperative residence, art gallery, libraries, music and art classes, labor museum
6. Answers will vary
7. Urban, poor sanitation, crime, disease, immigrants, non-English speakers, low paying jobs, long hours of work, overcrowded conditions
8. People working with the poor should live among the poor in equality; people should be treated with dignity and respect for their cultural backgrounds; it is poverty and lack of economic opportunity that causes poverty
9. Answers will vary
10. The letter is soliciting help from a wealthy member of society
11. Mrs. Hart, most likely, is the wife of an upper class member of society; she probably engages in various efforts of philanthropy
12. The funding for Hull House came from a variety of places, including donations. The letter shows Jane Addams' persistence on attaining funding for her organization.

Key: Activity 3

1.aggregate: the gross amount; collect into a sum
  Bohemian: someone from Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic
  cessation: to stop
   initiative: to take the lead
  pretentious: to be showy or grand; making claims of importance
  vice: an immoral or evil practice; something not approved of by society
2. The local authorities tend to ignore the slums and never take the initiative in providing support. Consequently, the neighborhoods suffer.
3. The conditions are filthy. The sanitation and sewers are inadequate. Houses are falling apart. Schools are not up to par. Plus, older and more wealthy residents move out.
4. The sweating system involves paying immigrants or poor people a meager wage to put together products in their own homes or in other rooms in tenement houses. Conditions in this system were notoriously poor.
5. The wooden structures of tenement houses were often overcrowded with more families than they were built to house. They do not have running water, except for a faucet outside.
6. Hull House also helped people who could not work due to illness, people suffering from a "bad marriage" and domestic violence, and others who were not necessarily immigrants or poor.

Key: Activity 4

1. Jane Addams received the Nobel Peace prize not only for her work at Hull House but for her promotion of peace throughout the world.
2. World War I
3. Her work at Hull House provided a stepping stone where she learned organization and the basic philosophies of social work. Plus, she made a name for herself and was well-respected. This helped influence millions of men and women in the cause of peace.

Click here to return to the article


|Home| |Search| |Back to Periodicals Available| |Table of Contents| |Back to Illinois History Teacher 2003|
Illinois Periodicals Online (IPO) is a digital imaging project at the Northern Illinois University Libraries funded by the Illinois State Library