History Makers: Jane Addams
Legendary Social Reformer Jane Addams Helped Secure Chicago Teachers' Pensions


“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” — Jane Addams, CTPF Pension Fund president, 1905−1907

CTPF is the oldest pension fund in Illinois and one of the oldest in the country — the first fund to provide teachers’ pensions in the United States. Chicago led the country in providing a social safety net for its teachers. Nearly 45 years before Social Security made its first payment, CTPF was established and had paid its first benefit.

Much of the Fund’s early success can be attributed to the efforts of
Chicago’s legendary social activist, Jane Addams. Social change is always difficult, but teachers had a strong voice in Addams, who was elected board president on August 30, 1905.

During Addams’ tenure as Board President, the law governing pensions was re-written to address three critical areas. The law required all teachers to participate in the pension fund (previous participation was voluntary) which provided stability for the Fund, it required an elected, independent board of trustees to administer investments, and it authorized the use of public funds for teachers’ pensions.

This third point was not without controversy. Even though this new law passed the Illinois General Assembly on July 1, 1907, Addams found herself embroiled in a court battle. The pension administrators went to court to force the City of Chicago to pay the interest generated on surpluses in the pension account – back to the pension fund. Addams and her contemporaries prevailed in court, and public funding for pensions was upheld.

Addams’ work on behalf of our fund and its members laid the groundwork for a highly successful pension fund, which has provided secure retirements for Chicago’s teachers for more than 123 years, and continues today.

Read more about Addams at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum Website.