“The health of the child is the power of the nation,”
Photo: Library of Congress
Digital ID cph 3g09867

Children’s Bureau


The early 1900’s was a time when social reformers were attempting to abolish abusive child labor practices and enact state legislation prohibiting factories and farmers employing very young children at very low wages. Some child welfare advocates recognized that the federal government was not yet fully engaged in addressing the physical or mental well-being needs of children. Their efforts eventually resulted in creation of the U.S. Children’s Bureau in 1912.  The entries below reflect much of the history and several of the agency’s early administrators.

  • Abbott, GraceGrace Abbott (1878 - 1939) - Social Work Pioneer, Reformer, Hull House Resident and Chief of the Children's Bureau. Article by John Sorensen, Founding Director of the Abbott Sisters Project
  • Children's Aid Society of Pennsylvaniaby Michael Barga. The Children’s Aid Society of Pennsylvania (CAS of PA) was formed in 1882 and was one of the first organizations dedicated to the care of children. The organization’s work has combined policy and direct service over the years, and the Society’s responsiveness to communal needs is especially highlighted through their efforts in times of war, depression, and social discord.
  • Children's Bureau - A Brief History & ResourcesBy Angelique Brown, MSW. The early 1900’s was a time in which the United States was attempting to change it stance on child labor and end abusive child labor practices. As more advocates started to address the issue, they recognized that the federal government was not yet fully engaged in addressing the physical or mental well-being needs of children
  • Children's Bureau: Part IThis is the story of the Children's Bureau of the U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from the idea in 1903 to its founding in 1912 and on through the years to the present time. The Bureau's establishment by Congress expressed the belief that children are the most important of the Nation's resources and that the Government should foster their development and protection by setting up a center of research and information devoted to their health and welfare.
  • Children's Bureau: Part IIOn the basis of the facts presented by the Bureau and its proposals, the Committee’s report recommended the expansion of the mother’s maternal and child health programs, medical care for crippled children, and child welfare services.
  • Children’s Bureauby Kriste Lindenmeyer, Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The establishment of the U.S. Children’s Bureau in 1912 marked a high point in the effort by many Americans to improve the lives of children.
  • Lathrop, Julia CliffordJulia Clifford Lathrop (1858-1932): First Chief of the Children’s Bureau and Advocate for Enactment of the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act of 1921
  • Lenroot, KatherineKatharine F. Lenroot, (March 8, 1891 – February 10, 1982) – Director of the Children’s Bureau, Child Welfare Advocate and Social Welfare Leader
  • Progress Report on Maternal and Child-Health Services: 1940Progress report on maternal and child-health services by Edwin F. Daily, including recommendations and 15 month assessment of the Children's Bureau.
  • Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Maternal and Child Health Services: 1938Recommendations regarding the selection, training and compensation of personnel, cooperation with other agencies, and hospital standards.