"The brilliance of Brown's The Education of Jane Addams is that Brown asks how Jane Addams became the Jane Addams of the litany of accomplishments."—Women's Review of BooksSelected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title
"A rich contribution. . . . Essential."—Choice
"Excellent. . . . Focused on the years between Addams's birth in 1860 and her emergence as the most widely acclaimed leader of the social settlement movement in the United States in the mid 1890s, The Education of Jane Addams provides a detailed, wonderfully complex analysis of Addams's ideas, life, and work."—Journal of American History
"A remarkably perceptive account of how the devoted daughter of a well-to-do mill owner and banker in a small Midwestern town became a heroic advocate for working-class residents of the city perhaps most identified in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with industrialism and labor strife."—Iowa Heritage Illustrated
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 family after her father's death 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.
Victoria Bissell Brown is Associate Professor of History at Grinnell College.