Edith Abbott was born on September 26, 1876 in Grand Island, Nebraska, into a politically and socially active Nebraskan family. After receiving a degree at the University of Nebraska, Edith attended the University of Chicago on a fellowship to study political economy. In 1905, she obtained her doctoral degree and spent multiple years at the University College London studying social economics and welfare. She returned to the United States to continue a successful career of teaching and researching social welfare alongside Grace Abbott, Sophonisba Breckinridge, and other women at Jane Addams’ Hull House. Abbott’s work focused on social statistics as a methodology to look critically at women’s rights, child labor, immigration, and public welfare. She was promoted to Dean of the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration in 1924, and held that position until retiring in 1942.
Charles Richmond Henderson
Charles Richmond Henderson was born on December 17, 1848 in Covington, Indiana. He served as a pastor for 19 years from 1873 to 1892, first at Terre Haute in Indiana, and then at Detroit. In 1892, Henderson became a professor in Sociology at the University of Chicago. He studied and acted for the improvement in public welfare, and asserted the importance of education and public health through reform movements, lectures and writings. His indeavor to enhance the civic life extended to the study of unemployment, industrial medicine, prison reform and criminology. He also held positions in various philanthropic societies, one of which is the president of Chicago Society of Social Hygiene as mentioned in Addams’s letter. Henderson's work was closely related to that of Hull House women. One example is the Chicago Institute at the Univeristy of Chicago he cofounded with Julia Lathrop and Graham Talyor. Edith Abbott, Jane Addams, Mary McDowell, and Sophonisba Breckinridge were all involved in the Chicago Institute. He died on March 29, 1915.
The Societies of Moral Prophylaxis and of Social Hygiene
The societies of Moral Prophylaxis and of Social Hygiene organized by physicians provided education about sexual hygiene for youths in schools and colleges through publications and lectures.
University of Chicago
U. of C. refers to the University of Chicago, one of the institutions residents of the Hull House worked closely with. Edith Abbott was the first dean of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.
Grace Abbott, sister of Edith Abbott, was born to an influential family in Grand Island, Nebraska on November 17, 1878. After several years of teaching high school in Grand Island and receiving a degree at the University of Nebraska, Grace moved to Chicago to join her sister at Jane Addams’ Hull House. She became increasingly involved in social reform regarding immigrant rights, child labor laws, and women’s rights. In 1917, Abbott moved to Washington D.C. where she quickly became the director of the Child Labor Division of the Children’s Bureau in 1917. She led the Bureau until her health began to fail and she returned to Chicago to live with Edith in 1934. Though undergoing continued poor health, Grace continued her involvement in the Social Security Administration until her death in 1939.
Dr. Grace Meigs Crowder
Dr. Grace Meigs Crowder was born Grace Meigs in 1881 in Rock Island, Illinois. She studied at Bryn Mawr College then went on to receive her medical degree from the University of Chicago in 1908. She spent her career in Chicago, conducting medical research and publishing a number of articles. She served as the director of the Division of Hygiene in the Children's Bureau of the United States from 1914-1918. Meigs married Dr. Thomas Reid Crowder in 1918 and changed her name to Dr. Grace Meigs Crowder. Miegs Crowder was especially interested in maternal and infant hygiene and her research was instrumental in bringing attention women's health issues in the United States. She died in Chicago in 1925.
Samuel Sidney McClure
Born on February 17, 1857 in County Antrim, Ireland, Samuel Sidney McClure is a self-made man who, as a poor immigrant, made his way into the publishing business. When he was nine years old, he moved to the United States with his mother and two brothers. He graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois in 1882. After building his career in publishing through college newspapers, magazines and presses, he established The McClure Syndicate which played an important role in promoting American and British writers in 1884. In 1894, he launched McClure's Magazine with his college friend, John Sanborn Phillips. In 1902, the magazine began to expose the corruption of the government through the writings, from which "muckraking journalism" originated. Jane Addams wrote articles for this magazine, used them later as the materials for her book, A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil (1912). In 1945, he received the Order of Merit by the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He died on March 21, 1949.
Shophonisba Breckinridge was born on April 1, 1866 in Lexington Kentucky to a prominent family. After passing the Kentucky bar exam, Breckinridge moved to Chicago to earn her Ph.D. in political science and economics. She then became an instructor and researcher of social reform and immigrant rights at the University of Chicago before becoming involved at Jane Addams’ Hull House where she met and began a collaborative relationship with Edith Abbott. Together, Abbott and Breckinridge established the Wendell Phillips Settlement House as well as the Social Service Review scholarly journal. Throughout her career, Breckinridge devoted her time to improving labor conditions, immigrant rights, women’s suffrage, and creating child labor laws before passing away at the age of 82.
Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860 in Cedarville, Illinois in a wealthy family. She received the bachelor's degree from Rockford College for Women in 1882. She studied medicine at the Woman's Medical College of Philadelphia, but completed only one year due to her poor health. Inspired from her visit to Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in London, she co-founded Hull House with Ellen Gates Starr in 1889 to help immigrants in Chicago. Addams was actively engaged in woman suffrage and international peace movement serving as an officer in the National American Woman's Suffrage Association and leading organizations such as Women's Peace Party, the International Congress of Women and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 71. Addams died of cancer in 1935.