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Ellen Gates Starr (1859 – 1940) – Co-Founder of Hull-House and Social Reformer
Ellen Gates Starr was born in Laona, Illinois, in 1859. Starr was a student at the Rockford Female Seminary (1877-78) where she met Jane Addams. Starr taught for ten years in Chicago before joining Addams in 1888 of a tour of Europe. While in London they visited Toynbee Hall. Inspired by the success of this project, they became determined to establish a similar social settlement in Chicago.
When Addams and Starr returned to Chicago in 1889, they purchased a large dilapidated mansion formerly owned by the wealthy businessman, Charles J. Hull. Hull House was opened as a kindergarten but soon expanded to include a day nursery, an infancy care center and further education classes. Starr and Addams were later joined by other social reformers such as Edith Abbott, Grace Abbott, Florence Kelley, Julia Lathrop, Alice Hamilton, Mary McDowell, Alzina Stevens and Sophonisba Breckinridge at the settlement.
As well as teaching at Hull-House Starr was active in the campaign to reform child labor laws and industrial working conditions in Chicago. Starr, a member of the Women’s Trade Union League, helped organize striking garment workers in 1896, 1910 and 1915.
In 1930 Ellen Gates Starr retired to a Roman Catholic convent in Suffern, New York County, where she died on 10th of February, 1940.