Co-founder, with Jane Addams, of the Hull House in Chicago, a center for infancy care and continuing education for adults.
She met Addams at the Rockford Female Seminary, a liberal arts institution in Illinois, with the two finding they had similar convictions.
After the founding of Hull House, she campaigned for the reform of child labor laws and the improvement of working conditions for blue-collar laborers in Chicago.
She was born in near Laona, Illinois.
Believing that practicing arts was the best way to stave off monotony, she taught community members of her Hull House the works of poets like William Shakespeare.