Jessie Binford


"In her six decades as a social worker, Miss Binford battled with local and state politicians in what she called a crusade aimed at the delinquency of adults against children." — The Des Moines Register, July 11, 1966


Jessie Binford, once known as "the conscience of Chicago," was a longtime associate of Jane Adams, founder of Chicago's Hull House. She was born in Marshalltown in 1876 and worked for 60 years as a social worker and advocate for the poor at Hull House on Chicago's slum-ridden west side. In her efforts for children's rights, Binford opposed child labor in the garment industry. She founded the Juvenile Protection Association and was its director for decades. At over 80 years of age, she waged a two-year court fight to save Hull House from demolition. When she lost, Binford returned to Marshalltown, where she organized a club for underprivileged boys. Shortly before her death in 1966 at age 90, she donated her family home to the community and moved into a hotel. Binford was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1977.