Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860, in Cedarville, Illinois. Her family was prosperous and she was the youngest of eight. However, three of her siblings died as infants and another as a teenager. Her mother died when she was two. As a child, Addams developed tuberculosis of spine that left her with a curved spine. She hoped to become a doctor to help people. Her father encouraged her to get an education and she went to Rockford Female Seminary. She graduated in 1881, and that summer her father died. She inherited $50,000 equivalent to $1.2 million in today's dollars.
Addams went to Philadelphia to study medicine but quit after a year. That summer she had surgery on her spine. Addams concluded that he could help the poor without becoming a doctor. After traveling to Europe she decided to found a settlement house and she established the Hull House in Chicago.
Within 15 years of its opening, Hull House was widely regarded as offering the premier facilities and programs for the benefit of the urban working class. An author and supporter of women's suffrage, Addams was also a tireless worker for world peace. She won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.