Living at Hull House
Jane and Ellen and Mary






The Making of Jane Addams

Her Childhood

College and Her 20's




Hull-House Firsts

Classes Offered at Hull-House

Hull-House Maps and Papers: Sociology in the Settlement

Living at Hull-House

A Community of Women

Jane and Ellen and Mary

Being Saint Jane

The Legacy of Hull-House



Chronology of Jane Addams’s Life


Additional Resources

Jane Addams’s Work Online

Sites About Jane Addams’s Legacy





Two of the most important residents as far as Jane were concerned were Ellen Gates Starr and Mary Rozet Smith.  Ellen had been her friend and companion since they were students at Rockford Female Seminary.  At some point they became lovers, and when they moved into Hull-House, they shared the only double bed in the settlement.  However, Ellen was always more religious and spiritually oriented than Jane was, and this may have created turmoil for her regarding her relationship with Jane.  Although they lived and traveled together, and Jane referred to their relationship as a "marriage," shortly after they began cohabitating, their relationship cooled.

Jane began to seek out the company of Mary, the daughter of a prosperous Chicago merchant and an early volunteer with Hull-House’s Young Heroes Club.  She soon replaced Ellen in Jane’s affections, and although she only lived at Hull-House after the death of her parents, she and Jane saw each other frequently before then. 

Mary filled an immediate need for Jane.  With Mary, she could be totally honest.  While the rest of the world saw her as the self-effacing, self-sacrificing “St. Jane,” with Mary she could actually boast of her success in public speaking on her fund-raising tours.103

Mary and Ellen may have been rivals for Jane’s affections, but they did not argue over their dedication to Hull-House.  In addition to her volunteer work, Mary wrote sizeable checks to support the work at Hull-House.  In 1895, she became a trustee of the Hull-House Association.  She paid for the building of a children’s center on the campus.  She was a favourite of the Hull-House residents.  Dr. Alice Hamilton wrote of her as “one supremely lovely figure … the most universally loved person.”104

Ellen continued to live at Hull-House, where she taught art history, created a literary club for young women, and collected money for and walked picket lines on behalf of many of the labour unions that met at Hull-House.  She was a founding member of the Illinois chapter of the Women’s Trade Union League, where she fought against the same issues of child labour that interested Julia Lathrop and Florence Kelley.  In 1914, while attempting to protect striking waitresses from assault by the police officers, she was arrested.105  She established a lending library of reproductions of classical art at Hull-House that was eventually extended to the public schools.  This later grew into the Public School Art Society, of which she was the first president.106

Ellen became more and more devoted to her religious beliefs, and in 1920, she converted to Catholicism.  In 1930, she left Hull-House and joined the Convent of the Holy Child.  In 1935 she became an oblate of the Third Order of Saint Benedict.107

Mary died of pneumonia in 1934, having lived forty years of her life with Jane.  Jane herself was ill at the time—she survived Mary by little more than a year, dying of cancer in 1935—and the loss of her companion left her despondent.  In a letter to one of her nephews, she wrote, “I suppose I could have willed my heart to stop beating, but the thought of what she had been to me for so long kept me from being cowardly.”108

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103.  Faderman, Lillian.  “Social Housekeeping: The Inspiration of Jane Addams.”  To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America—A History.  Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999.pp. 129-130.

104.  Faderman, Lillian.  p. 129.

105.  idem.  p. 124.

106.  Addams, Jane.  Twenty Years at Hull House.  Phillips Publishing Company, 1910.   p. 221.

107.  Faderman, Lillian.  p. 125.

108.  Faderman, Lillian.  p. 132.