Grace Abbott (Grace Abbott)

Grace Abbott

Social Reformer.  She is remembered, along with her older sister, Edith Abbott, as a voice in improving the rights of immigrants and advancing child welfare in the US.  She also pioneered the process of incorporating sociological data pertaining to child labor, juvenile delinquency, dependency, and statistics into the lawmaking process.  The daughter of the first lieutenant governor of Nebraska, she graduated from Grand Island College at Grand Island, Nebraska in 1898 and became a high school teacher there.  In 1907 she moved to Chicago, Illinois and resided at Hull House, a settlement house co-founded in 1889 by social reformers Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, where she began her career as a social worker.  Two years later, she received a Master of Philosophy Degree from the University of Chicago and began writing a series of weekly articles in the Chicago Evening Post called “Within the City’s Gates” that described the exploitation of immigrants.  She served on committees and organizations for advancing the cause of child welfare, including Immigrants’ Protective League (1908 to 1917), Child Labor Division of the US Children’s Bureau (1921 to 1934), and also belonged to the Women’s Trade Union League.  In 1917 she became director of the Child Labor Division of the US Children’s Bureau, serving until 1919.  In 1924 she began working on an effort to pass a constitutional amendment against child labor but it never achieved statewide ratification.  She spent a lot of her time in Washington DC lobbying for social issues and was the first woman nominated for a Presidential cabinet position but was not confirmed.  From 1934 until her death she worked with the newly created Social Security Administration and assisted, with her sister Edith, in drafting the Social Security Act that became law in August 1935.  In 1938 she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and she died from the disease a year later at age 60.  The School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha is named in her honor. (bio by: William Bjornstad)  Family links:  Parents:  Othman Ali Abbott (1842 – 1935)  Elizabeth M. Griffin Abbott (1844 – 1941)  Siblings:  Othman Ali Abbott (1874 – 1954)*  Edith Abbott (1876 – 1957)*  Grace Abbott (1878 – 1939)  Arthur Griffin Abbott (1880 – 1969)* *Calculated relationship


  • November, 17, 1878
  • USA


  • June, 06, 1939
  • USA


  • Grand Island Cemetery
  • Nebraska
  • USA

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