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The Hull-House, founded in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, worked with community members, known as “residents,” to provide kindergarten and daycare for working mothers, English and citizenship classes, an employment bureau, and meeting spaces for trade unions, libraries and an art gallery, and art courses, including theater, music, and visual arts. 

Woodworking in the Hull House woodshop, 1911


Children's art class, 1922


Sculpture class, 1913


Ceramics class for young immigrants, 1920

Art-making was “central to the work of Hull-House and became the underpinning of community building and cross-cultural communication." Celebrated for its revolutionary art program, Hull-House held space for groundbreaking exhibitions and teaching artists, as well as maintaining a commitment to making arts education accessible to all through Chicago’s vibrant and diverse cultural landscape. 

“The reformers insisted on cultural rights and creative expression for all and believed that the arts were central to a thriving democracy…The Settlement community challenged class, gender, and racial privilege by asking critical questions such as, “Who gets to make art?”, “Who gets to teach art?” and “Who gets to determine what is beautiful?”

While Jane Addams’ Hull-House is not directly in the realm of summer camps in the traditional way we categorize them today, born through the Settlement Movement and Fresh Air Funds, this organization paved the way for a place for the arts in youth-centered spaces and forever set a precedent for arts programming. “In dedicating Bowen Country Club in 1809, the whole house camp at Waukegan, Illinois, Jane Addams said, 'for fresh air, yes, but fresh air breeds joy and freedom, and opening up a new world.'"


Jane Addams speaking to a class of young Hull-House students, 1932

Photos courtsey of Edgar Miller Legacy

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