The range of Addams' concerns, of her active social and political involvement, is astonishing. She belonged to and helped to found many organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She championed women's suffrage and equality and believed in their moral strength in reform. At one point, she was cast in the role of middle class secular saint, and she became the most honored woman in the United States. As the United States entered World War I and later, Addams was called a dangerous radical and unchristian scoundrel and vilified for her outspoken pacifism and championing of free speech, human rights, and other progressive causes and groups. Her profound contributions to society began to be recognized again in the 1960s, and this biography reveals her greatness to a new generation.
ROBIN K. BERSON is an independent scholar and director of the Upper School Library, Riverdale Country School, Bronx, New York.
An alternative perspective on American history for students is offered in this work. The 35 men and women profiled here all defied the social and moral conventions of their times, frequently facing opposition and condemnation. Their voices were often stilled, muted, or lost, but their ethically grounded courage, their clarity of vision, and their willingness to stand up to injustice provide role models for Americans of all ages. One third of these people cannot be found in standard biographical references and others have never before been the focus of biographical sketches. Subject lists by chronology, gender, ethnicity, and focus of the biographee's concern will enable the student to select an appropriate subject for investigation and reports.