The daughter of a prosperous Illinois businessman, Jane Addams longed to do something meaningful with her life, yet found herself shut out of most professions because of her gender. In 1889, she decided to use her inheritance from her late father to help found the pioneering settlement house, Hull House, where she and a dedicated staff of volunteers, most of them college-educated women like herself, lived and worked among some of Chicago's most destitute residents. Through works likes this, Addams became one of the most celebrated women in U.S. history. A tireless social and political reformer, feminist, and antiwar activist, Addams was also the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Learn more about her inspiring life in Jane Addams.
Paul Robeson rose from humble circumstances to become a Phi Beta Kappa honoree and college football star. Discouraged by the limited opportunities for black lawyers in the United States, he gave up a law career to become a professional actor and singer. His rich bass-baritone voice, personal charisma, and exceptional acting abilities soon made him one of the most acclaimed performers of his era. During the 1930s, Robeson also became known for his commitment to a variety of social causes. Robeson's outspoken admiration for the Soviet Union, however, turned him into a pariah in the United States. Despite being one of the great cultural figures of the 20th century, he was vilified and ignored by mainstream American culture and succeeding interpretations of African-American history. Today, however, he is celebrated as one of America's greatest performing artists and as a forerunner of the civil rights movement. Paul Robeson introduces this actor and singer who became a controversial figure for his Communist sympathies during the Red Scare era.
The Civil War brought enormous hardship and tragedy to America's female population. Yet, it also provided women of all races and social classes with unprecedented opportunities to participate in civic, economic, and military activities that had previously been closed to them. Although officially banned from serving in combat by both the Union and Confederate governments, women played a vital role in their side's war efforts. During the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history, some risked their lives as spies, scouts, and saboteurs, and in some instances, even disguised themselves as men to challenge their nation's foes directly on the battlefield. Others produced and donated desperately needed supplies for the troops, or cared for ill and wounded soldiers. Those at home kept farms and businesses running while their male relations were off fighting. Women and the Civil War describes the important roles women filled while the Union and Confederate armies fought.
Mother Teresa is one of the most admired Nobel laureates of all time. Born in Eastern Europe of Albanian parents, she became a Catholic missionary nun in India when she was still a teenager. After teaching in a convent school in Calcutta for nearly two decades, in 1946 she claimed that she heard God calling her to live and work among the poorest of the poor in that city's slums. With the assistance of the religious order she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, over the next half-century Mother Teresa devoted herself to society's forgotten and unwanted, not only in India but in countries all over the globe. In recognition of her selfless efforts on behalf of the world's suffering, Mother Teresa received numerous honors during her lifetime, including the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, which she was awarded in 1979. Mother Teresa is a stirring biography of a woman who gave voice to those most often ignored and neglected by society at large, and whose name has forever become synonymous with tireless charity.
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