Social centers settlement houses are social reform institutions which were established in the 19th Century USA, in a period when the social, cultural and political turmoil caused by the industrial developments in the city life were tried to be comprehended and taken under control. The target group of these institutions that were actively run by women was the immigrants and the poor working class who were seen as the cause of problems encountered in the city life. For women settlement houses shined out as institutions where they were the most visible in the public sphere in accordance with their gender’s roles under the conditions of the time. One of the settlement houses where well-educated and upper class women actively played a part was Hull House of which Jane Addams was one of the founders. Established in 1889 in a poor neighborhood of Chicago, Hull House was one of the earliest steps of women’s transformation into the actors of the public sphere with their initiatives regarding the organization of city life. The Hull House experience is the subject matter of this essay from this aspect. In this context, the contributions of activities conducted by Addams and the other voluntary residents in Hull House to the transformation of women into the actors of the public sphere and overcoming the gender barriers in the 19th century in the USA will be discussed.
American society, Jane Addams, Hull House, Settlement House, Gender