Creating Sustainable Food Systems Goal of Hull House Seed Library

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By Mark Gould

The Jane Addams-Hull House Museum in Chicago is expanding its urban farming initiatives with a public heirloom seed library that will help foster sustainable food systems.

The University of Illinois at Chicago's museum will be relying on a $15,000 federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to open the library.

Urban farmers and gardeners will be able to get free, regionally adapted seeds if they agree to grow them and return some seeds from the next generation of plants at the end of the season.

The museum is a memorial to social reformer Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It's located in two of the original settlement house buildings on Chicago's West Side.

“Civilization is a method of living and an attitude of equal respect for all people.” –Jane Addams

Jane Addams (1860 –1935) was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In a long, complex career, she was a pioneer settlement worker, founder of Hull House in Chicago, public philosopher (the first American woman in that role), sociologist, author, and leader in woman suffrage and world peace. With presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson she was the most prominentreformer of the Progressive Era and helped turn the nation to issues of concern to mothers, such as the needs of children, public health and world peace. She emphasized that women have a special responsibility to clean up their communities and make them better places to live, arguing they needed the vote to be effective. Addams became a role model for middle-class women who volunteered to uplift their communities.

Jane Addams Hull House Association continues to be immersed in communities to determine how to best serve all citizens' needs and work in these areas:

Addams ran Hull House as head resident until her death in 1935. Hull House continued to serve the community surrounding the Halsted location until it was displaced by the urban campus of the University of Illinois. Today, the social service center role is performed throughout the city at various locations under an umbrella organization, the Jane Addams Hull House Association. The association has, since 1962, perpetuated the name and many of the aspirations of the original institution The original Hull House building itself is a museum, part of the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and is open to the public.

The Jane Addams Hull House Association is one of Chicago’s largest not-for-profit social welfare organizations. Its mission is to improve social conditions for underserved people and communities by providing creative, innovative programs and by advocating for related public policy reforms. The Association has more than 50 programs at over 40 sites throughout Chicago and serves approximately 60,000 individuals, families, and community members every year.

The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is part of the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago and serves as a memorial to Addams and other resident social reformers, whose work influenced the lives of their immigrant neighbors, as well as national and international public policy. The museum and its programs connect the work of Hull House residents to important contemporary social issues. The Museum's collection includes over 1,100 artifacts related to Hull House history and over 100 oral interviews conducted with people who have shared their stories about Hull House and the surrounding neighborhood

Visit your local library to learn more about Jane Addams.and sustainable food systems.


The Jane Addams Reader
by Jean Bethke Elshtain, (2002).

Jane Addams: Pioneer Social Worker (Community Builders)
by Charnan Simon, (1998).

American Heroine: The Life and Legend of Jane Addams
by Allen Freeman Davis, (1973).

On Good Land: The Autobiography of an Urban Farm
by Michael Ableman and Cynthia Wisehart, 1998.

From the Good Earth: A Celebration of Growing Food around the World
by Michael Abelman, Cynthia Wisehart, and Sam Bittman, (1993).

Food for the Future: Conditions and Contradictions of Sustainability
by Patricia Allen, 1993.

Together at the Table: Sustainability and Sustenance in the American Agrifood System
Rural Studies Series. University Park, Penna: Pennsylvania State University Press; Published in cooperation with the Rural Sociological Society, (2004).

Meeting Farm and Food Security Needs through Community Supported Agriculture and Farmers' Markets in California
Patricia Allen, Julie Guthman, Amy W. Morris, and University of California, Santa Cruz. Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, (2006).

Alternative Food Initiatives in California: Local Efforts Address Systemic Issues
Allen, Patricia, and University of California Santa Cruz. Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, (2003).

Global Perspectives on Agroecology and Sustainable Agricultural Systems: Proceedings of the Sixth International Scientific Conference of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements
Patricia Allen, Debra Van Dusen, and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, (1988).

The War on Bugs
by Will Allen , 2008.

Agroecology and the Search for a Truly Sustainable Agriculture
 by Miguel A. Altieri and Clara I. Nicholis, (2005).

Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Fair Trade, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America
by Christopher M Bacon, (2008).

Appetite for Change: How the Counterculture Took on the Food Industry
Warren James Belasco, (2007).

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