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Florence Kelley, a lifelong advocate for women and children, came to Chicago with her three children fleeing an abusive husband. She lived at Hull-House in the 1890s and was appointed ...
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Florence Kelley, a lifelong advocate for women and children, came to Chicago with her three children fleeing an abusive husband. She lived at Hull-House in the 1890s and was appointed state factory inspector by Governor John Peter Altgeld, becoming the first woman to hold that post in the United States. As factory inspector she and her colleagues worked to place children in school and remove them from tenement factories and dangerous industrial environments. With colleagues she conducted a wage and ethnicity census of the slums of Chicago at the time of the World’s Fair, resulting in the publication of Hull-House Maps and Papers (1895). Its findings and astute observations are relevant today. This book braids together three narratives: the story of Florence Kelley’s life as a mother and reformer in the tumult of 1890s Chicago; the story of the author’s arrival in Chicago a century later and her new life and work here; and references to wrongful convictions and exonerations over the course of a decade leading finally to the abolition of capital punishment in Illinois.

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