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Rediscovering Jane Addams in a Time of Crisis


A daylong free public forum was held on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Edwards Church in Northampton devoted to: “Rediscovering Jane Addams in a Time of Crisis.” Sponsored by Mass Humanities, in association with the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice and other organizations, the forum revisited the once-revered (and sometimes reviled) Jane Addams and examined how her struggles for social justice and peace continue today.

Jane Addams (1860-1935) was co-founder of Chicago’s Hull-House (1889), a pioneering feminist and human rights advocate, peace activist, co-founder of the NAACP, the ACLU, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). In 1931 she was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. At her death, her advocacy for human rights and world peace was assumed by Eleanor Roosevelt who would “replace her as the most loved and hated woman in America” according to historian Allen F. Davis.

In commemoration of her leadership in the women’s peace movement during and after the First World War, November 11, 2017 (the 99th anniversary of Armistice Day) was declared “Jane Addams Day” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by a legislative joint resolution to be co-sponsored by State Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Rep. Aaron Vega of Holyoke. The keynote speaker was Louise W. Knight, author of Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy (2006) and Jane Addams: Spirit in Action (2010).

Panelists included historians, practitioners in fields she influenced, and representatives of vulnerable populations. Audience discussion was encouraged and the program was video-recorded. Panel topics are:

1) Keynote: Jane Addams and Today’s Issues

2) Today’s Immigration and Refugee Crisis

3) Social and Environmental Justice

4) Waging Peace: From Jane Addams to ICAN

The Greenfield-based a cappella chorus Amandla performed a selection of peace and justice songs.

    Edwards Church is located at 297 Main Street at the intersection of Main and State Street in downtown Northampton. The program lasted from 9 am to 4 pm. For additional information see: