Biography of Grace Abbott
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Grace Abbott (November 17, 1878 - June 19, 1939) was an American
social worker who specifically worked in advancing child welfare.
Abbott was born in Grand Island, Nebraska. Abbott graduated from
Grand Island College in 1898. Before embarking on her future career
in social work, she worked as a high school teacher in her home
town through 1906. In 1902, she started graduate studies at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln and in 1904 at the University of
In 1907, she moved to Chicago, where she began her career in
social work. She took up residency in the Hull House, an urban
center for women engaged in early proto-feminism and social reform,
as well as a safe haven for the poor. In 1909, Abbott received
a doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago.
Abbott served on several committees and organizations for advancing
the societal cause of the child welfare, including the Immigrants'
Protective League (1908-1917), Child Labor Division of the U.S.
Children's Bureau (1921 to 1934), and was also a member of the
Women's Trade Union League.
Abbott was an author of several sociological texts, including
The Immigrant and the Community (1917) and The Child and the State
(1938, 2 volumes). She was also responsible for incorporating
social statistics and research into legislative policy-making
as well as investigating child labor violations in shipbuilding
plants and other factories across the United States.
Abbott pioneered the process of incorporating sociological data
relating to child labor, juvenile delinquency, dependency, and
statistics into the lawmaking process; she spent much of her time
as a political lobbyist for social issues in Washington, D.C.
She was associated with the Social Security Administration from
1934 until her death in 1939; during that time period, Abbott
helped in the drafting of the Social Security Act and chaired
several government committees on child welfare and social issues.
During a 1938 health checkup, doctors discovered that she was
suffering from multiple myeloma. The disease caused her death
one year later.
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