Saturday, September 8, 2007

Stretch of I-90 named for Jane Addams

As a long-time admirer of social reformer Jane Addams, I'm pleased to see that a 79-mile stretch of Interstate 90 between Chicago and the Rockford area has been named for her.

Addams, who was born 147 years ago this past Thursday in Cedarville, a few miles north of Freeport, is generally recognized by historians as one of the most influential women in American history. She's seen as the godmother of modern social work and was instrumental in the establishment of juvenile courts, child-labor laws, public health reforms, the 8-hour workday and countless other advances.

She was the founder of Hull House, the famed social settlement in Chicago, and was a founding member of both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, among other organizations.

She also was the first person to win an academic degree from what later became Rockford College.

In 1931, Addams became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Four years later, she died at the age of 74 and was buried in a family plot in Cedarville.

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