Addams, Jane. Twenty years at Hull House: With Autobiographical Notes

Topics: Jane Addams

Twenty Years at Hull-House is the selected primary source written by Jane Addams and will be presented throughout this project for rhetorical analysis. This resource is extensive and will provide several snippets of Addams’ rhetoric surrounding her work within the Hull House. There are over three hundred pages of Addams’ reflection on her work, and it can be a somewhat daunting process to narrow down select examples of her rhetoric to analyze. This project will be divided into different areas of discussion surrounding Addams’ use of the Hull House to promote a physical space for the rhetorical engagement of diverse groups.

The intertwining effect of Addams’ rhetoric and secondary sources will help to narrow the focus of this project. Another hope for this resource is to provide more information on various movements and practices the residents of Hull-House participated in. These are some selected preliminary examples of Addams’ rhetoric that will be discussed throughout this project:

“The policy of the public authorities of never taking an initiative, and always waiting to be urged to do their duty, is fatal in a neighborhood where there is little initiative among the Citizens,” (98).

“They make room for newly arrived immigrants who are densely ignorant of civic duties,” (99).

“The settlement then is an experimental effort to aid in the solution of the social and industrial problems which are engendered by the modern condition of life in the great city,” (125).

“In short, residents are pledged to devote themselves to the duties of good citizenship and to the arousing of the social energies which too largely lie dormant in every neighborhood given over to industrialism,” (127-28).

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“During our twenty years, hundreds of these non-residents have directed clubs and classes, and have increased the number of Chicago citizens who are conversant with adverse social conditions and conscious that only by the unceasing devotion of each, according to his strength, shall the compulsions and hardships, the stupidities and cruelties of life be overcome,” (367).

“But the paradox here; when cultivated people do stay away from a certain portion of the population when all social advantages are persistently withheld, it may be for years, the result itself is pointed to as a reason and is used as an argument for the continued withholding,” (369).

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 19 April 1908. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

This is a primary source, a magazine article discussing Addams and the Hull House in 1908. The article is brief but plays an important role in presenting information about some of the “early opposition” that Addams faced during the years the Hull House was operating (Evening Star, 1908). This source will be an interesting addition to this project and will help to further develop the historical background of Addams and the Hull House.

Residents of Hull-House. “Maps.” Hull-House Maps and Papers: a Presentation of Nationalities and Wages in a Congested District of Chicago, Together with Comments and Essays on Pr, Crowell, 1895.

This is an excellent primary source, a study written by Addams, residents, and other affiliated parties to provide specific demographic data of the community surrounding the Hull House. This is a rich source of information and could be utilized in many ways throughout the development of this project. As of now, the sole purpose of this source will be to provide information on the ethnic composition and the income of these neighborhoods. The authors of this text created impressive maps that represent this data and will be an interesting visual contribution to this project.

Armentrout, David, and Patricia Armentrout. Jane Addams. 2004.

The purpose of this secondary source is to provide some brief background information about Jane Addams. This will be information that was not included in Addams’ Twenty Years at Hull-House. This source will aid the development of a well-rounded section of Jane Addams, and her life.

Danes, Gary, and Nicholas V. Longo. “Jane Addams and the Origins of Service-Learning Practice in the United States.” Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 2004, pp. 5–13.

This secondary resource provides an excellent example of how to incorporate Addams’ rhetoric into a discussion alongside other secondary sources. This resource discusses the concept of “social learning” as coined by the author. The article discusses Addams’ decision to engage diverse groups through an array of services and educational classes, within the Hull-House because she is critical of the way education institutions value knowledge over experience (7). The author discusses the Hull-House was “acting as a mediating institution or community connecter,” (7). This source is important to incorporate in the discussion of this project because it reveals the way Addams’could command the physical space and use her rhetoric to influence educational practices.

Danisch, Robert. “Jane Addams, Pragmatism and Rhetorical Citizenship in Multicultural Democracies.” Probing the Boundaries, vol. 74, 2011, pp. 37–58.

This secondary source provides an excellent discussion surrounding the possible social factors and reasons for the birth of the Hull-House and Addams’ practices. The author mentions an important rhetorical concept of “rhetorical citizenship” and applies it to Addams’ work within the Hull-House. Danisch defines this concept as, “the search for, and practice of, methods of communication capable of guiding public decision and judgment,” (38). He then discusses how the practice of “rhetorical citizenship” can be applied to the use of physical space, which he names this concept as “deliberative ecology”. Danisch defines this concept as, “how specific public cultures are organized and managed by laws, institutions, spaces, policies, and people that inhabit the public culture,” (53). These are two very interesting concepts, that will be included in rhetorical analysis within this project.

Haar, Sharon. “Location, Location, Location: Gender and the Archaeology of Urban Settlement.” Journal of Architectural Education, vol. 55, no. 3, 2002, pp. 150–160.

This secondary source provides excellent historical information on the physical location of the Hull House and briefly presents some of the necessary demographics of the Chicago neighborhoods that surrounded the settlement house. This source will help create a social context in this area, that will be much needed in the development of this project. The inclusion of this information will aid the analysis of Addams’ decision and motives behind the purchase of the Hull House property. The source lacks specific details surrounding the different ethnic enclaves. The information within this resource will be supplemented with another resource.

Maclean, Vicky M., and Joyce E. Williams. “‘Ghosts of Sociologies Past:’ Settlement Sociology in the Progressive Era at the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy.” The American Sociologist, vol. 43, no. 3, 2012, pp. 235–263.

This secondary resource presents the argument that Jane Addams contributed to the advancement of professional training for social workers, stating, “the best education for workers at the time was the settlement house experience where residents learned directly from their neighborhoods,” (239). Examining the importance of physical space allows for easier access to different groups of people in different socioeconomic conditions. This source can help with the analysis of Addams’ rhetoric surrounding the engagement of affluent groups to help those in need while utilizing the Hull-House as a physical device for rhetorical engagement.

Malinowski, Liane. “Claiming Cosmopolitan Geographies: Space and Ethos at Hull House, Chicago.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 37, no. 4, 2018, pp. 406–420., doi:10.1080/07350198.2018.1497886.

This secondary source will be an excellent addition to this project and provides several rhetorical concepts that will help to establish credibility, supporting the main argument of this project. Malinowski focuses on the concept of “rhetorical space” and how Addams and the Hull-House residents use the physical location of the House to their advantage, to promote rhetorical participation of a diverse group of people, specifically immigrant residents (406). This process was not only for immigrant groups but for women to broaden their “worldly ethos”, another concept Malinowski offers, however, Malinowski is somewhat critical of Addams and the process of engagement of these different groups, because, “ individual rhetors may sometimes assert control over the location from which they speak to invent ethos,” (408).

Tonn, Mari Boor. ‘Jane Addams: Spirit in Action by Louis W. Knight.’ Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14, no. 3 (2011): 552-55.

This secondary source also provides background information on Jane Addams’ life and includes a helpful discussion of her accomplishments. This source is limited since it is a book review, but the information included will help the development of a well-rounded biography within the introduction of this project.

Whips, Judy. “Local Community: Place-Based Pragmatist and Feminist Education.” The Pluralist, vol. 9, no. 2, 2014, p. 29., doi:10.5406/pluralist.9.2.0029.

Judy Whipps references Jane Addams’s work within the Hull-House and discusses the concept of “place-based education” through a specific theoretical lens. According to the author, Addams functioned under the “pragmatist feminist educational theory,” (29). The author states, “pragmatist education, especially as described in the work of Dewy and Addams, has the potential to refocus attention on the practical and on the lived experience of individuals and communities,” (33). This theory in the context of the Hull-House can be applied to Addams’ and her residents working and living among the diverse group they desired to reach, to better understand how to serve and promote engagement within the populations. Whipps continues by stating, “the particularities of position and place in “actual life” are important in feminist analysis or activism,” (34). This will be an excellent source to aid the development of the argument in this project.

Cite this page

Addams, Jane. Twenty years at Hull House: With Autobiographical Notes. (2022, May 13). Retrieved from

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