Women of Valor


Ardent Expansionist

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, 1858 - 1942

As a leader, Solomon focused on building consensus and fostering collaboration. She was keenly aware of how cooperation among organizations increased their efficiency and power. As she joked in one speech, "It is evident...that the president of the Council of Jewish Women is an ardent expansionist." When NCJW joined the National Council of Women in 1894, Solomon called it an important first step. She saw no reason why Council's Jewish identity should preclude it from working with compatible Christian groups towards social change.

Solomon's unifying vision was also her greatest contribution to the early, disorganized social welfare system in Chicago. She created structures to monitor available services, avoid overlap and fill in gaps. One of the most important organizations Solomon founded was the Bureau of Personal Service in 1897. During the thirteen years she served as the Bureau's head, she coordinated and implemented relief efforts among agencies working with Jewish immigrants in the "heart of the so-called 'Ghetto' district."

One influential seventh ward collaborator was Jane Addams, Solomon's close friend and colleague. Addams founded Hull House, a pioneering example of the settlement house movement in the early 1900's. Settlements served as cultural community centers and helped organize neighborhood involvement. At Hull House, Solomon estimated, "seventy per cent of those who love to cross its threshold" were the poor Jewish immigrants.

  1. "It is evident that the president..." quote from Sheaf 151.
  2. On Solomon's ideas on collaboration between NCJW and organizations of other faiths, see Sheaf 120, 129 and Fabric 107.
  3. For the description of the Bureau and its work, see Fabric 94-5 5. On Hull House and Jane Addams, see Mary Lynn McCree Brian and Allen F. Davis, eds., 100 Years at Hull-House (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1990) 7-8.
  4. "seventy per cent of those who love.." quote from Sheaf 261.
  5. Caption to Jane Addams and Hannah Greenebaum Solomon: the quote "I consider Jane Addams the greatest..." is from Fabric 226.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Hannah Greenebaum Solomon - Ardent Expansionist." (Viewed on April 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/solomon/ardent-expansionist>.