Francis Hackett

Francis Hackett was born in Ireland in 1883. He arrived in America in 1901 and after working as an office by for a law firm in New York, he moved to Chicago where he found employment as a journalist on the Chicago Evening Post.

In 1906 Hackett became a resident of Hull House where she joined other social reformers such as Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, Edith Abbott, Grace Abbott, Mary McDowell, Florence Kelley, Julia Lathrop, Alice Hamilton and Sophonisba Breckinridge at the settlement.

Hackett wrote for the New Republic and had several books published including a biography of Henry VIII. Francis Hackett died in 1962.

Primary Sources

(1) Francis Hackett, Hull House, Survey Magazine (June, 1925)

When I went to live in Hull House in 1906, I did not really know it, and I was totally ignorant of settlement work as I was devoid of missionary spirit. I was torn at that time between the two impulses of wanting to know Chicago and wanting to escape from it, and I went to Hull House both for escape and for reconcilement.

I went there as one always goes into a new experience, on the terms and in the light of the inappropriate things I already knew. Only very slowly did I frame for myself the kind of experience I was having. As I trusted myself to it gradually and suspiciously, and felt it gave back more than it was receiving from me, I began to realize the peculiar quality of this strange American creation, its quality of goodness, of intelligence, of decent conscience, which filled Hull House almost to overflowing, and which renewed itself constantly from Miss Addams as a fountain is renewed. Hull House not only recruited strong characters, it was excited about them.

Hull House was American because it was international, and because it perceived that the nationalism of each immigrant was a treasure, a talent, which gave him a special value for the United States. We were flooded by nationalisms. How many nights did I not stay awake while the interminable whine of Greek folk-music came across Halsted Street to my exasperated ears? And if the Greeks were neighbours, with their sharp profiles and sharper wits, the Italians were not less neighbours. An Italian family lived in the House, the handsome matron who ran the coffee house, her seigniorial husband who was an editor, and the two boys, one chiselled Latin and the other a ball of Nordic-Latin energy. But there was also the stream of Italian life from the neighbourhood, the black eyes blazing out of immobile faces, the withered mothers, the gnarled fathers who seemed to carry with them the parched heat of a beating sun.