Earliest Impressions


Addams, Jane




Jane Addams, founder of Chicago's Hull House and winner of the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize, begins her famous Twenty Years at Hull-House with recollections of her "earliest impressions" of the world around her. These impressions are connected to memories of her father, who first drew her "into the moral concerns of life." This reading looks closely at the role of moral educators and raises questions about the influences that strengthen our ties to humanity and drive us to serve others.

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The Civically Engaged Reader, eds. Davis & Lynn, (Great Books Foundation, 2006).




Connection and RelationshipDiversity and DifferenceGiving and ReceivingJustice and EqualityServing and Volunteering

Big Questions

Why is connection important? What does it enable? What does it impede?What does good giving require?What makes a good gift?When I give, what do I expect in return? What do I receive?Who should we give to and why?What is justice? How do we recognize it?Do acts of service lead to social change?Is my service changing the world or only myself? Is that enough?Why do we serve?


Civically Engaged Reader

Talking Service

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think of the first "incident" in the beginning of the chapter?
  2. Why does the speaker confess her sins? What kinds of sins does she have and how does she feel about them?
  3. What kinds of things does the speaker learn in this chapter?
  4. What does her parenting have to do with her concepts of faith, ethics, and giving?
  5. How did your childhood inform your ethical worldview?
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