Grace Abbott: The Mother Of America's Forty Three Million Children

1782 words - 7 pages

From the humble beginning of Social Work there have been many people who have tirelessly worked, fought, and dedicated their life advocating for the people in our world who are disadvantaged. Furthermore, many of these people have been women who not only were strong enough to fight for the rights of others, but also had to fight the forces whom thought that women where in some way second hand citizens themselves. These women were brave and determined enough to break out of the box that society placed them in, and stand up for the social injustices that they seen taking place, and try to make a difference. Of the many women from the early days of Social Work none fought harder for social reform than Grace Abbott. Grace Abbott spent her life fighting to enact legislation for the betterment of society as a whole. This work would eventually earn her the nickname “the mother of America’s forty-three million children.”
Grace Abbott was born November 17, 1878 in Grand Island, Nebraska. Grace was one of four children of Othman A. and Elizabeth Abbott. There’s was a home environment that stressed religious independence, education, and general equality. Grace grew up observing her father, a Civil War veteran in court arguing as a lawyer. Her father would later become the first Lt. Governor of Nebraska. Elizabeth, her mother, taught her of the social injustices brought on the Native Americans of the Great Plains. In addition, Grace was taught about the women’s suffrage movement, which her mother was an early leader of in Nebraska. During Grace’s childhood she was exposed to the likes of Pulitzer Prize author Willa Cather who lived down the street from the Abbott’s, and Susan B. Anthony the prominent civil rights leader whom introduced women’s suffrage into the United States. In fact, Susan B. Anthony would spend the night in the Abbott home while in Grand Island. Grace graduated college in 1898 from Grand Island College, and then worked as a High School teacher in her hometown. In 1902 Grace began her graduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Grace eventually obtained her PhD in political science from the University of Chicago in 1909.
Grace grew up in an era when women were fighting for their own rights through the women’s suffrage movement. Grace had already realized she wanted to do more than teach on the prairies of the Midwest. She would be exposed to even more injustices when she chose to leave the prairies of Nebraska and travel to Chicago with her sister Edith. In 1908 Grace moved in to Jane Adam’s Hull House which served as a settlement house for the poor, furthermore, Hull house was a place where dedicated and active women worked toward social reform, including the areas of the early feminist movement. This is when Grace began becoming interested in Social Work, which would eventually become her life’s work. Grace spent much of her life in the poorest and depressed area of Chicago’s urban city. Grace was faced with many...

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