Jane Addams was at the forefront of the turn-of-the century American reform movement known as the Progressive movement, which focused largely on the social problems of the cities.
In 1889 in Chicago, she set up a settlement house, a live-in community center offering services to an immigrant neighborhood and housing for the mostly female social workers who ran those services.
The idea was that by living in the house the reformers would become part of the neighborhood.
Although Addams’s settlement house, called Hull House, was not the first, it became the best-known one.
Addams and other residents set up classes, day-care facilities, a gym, clubs, a soup kitchen, and other services; they also promoted such reforms as factory safety, required schooling for all children, laws against child labor, better working conditions for women, juvenile courts, and cleaner streets.
Hull House worker Florence Kelley helped improve conditions in sweatshops and later helped found the National Consumers’ League, whose members refused to buy anything from companies that exploited their workers.