Howard W. Hopkirk (1894 – 1963) — Social Worker, Consultant on Child Care Institutions and Executive Director of the Child Welfare League of America
Introduction: Howard W. Hopkirk was born in Montrose, Iowa, on March 21, 1894, the son of William Hume Hopkirk and Marietta Cowles Hopkirk. In 1920, he received a Bachelor of Arts from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He also attended Union Theological Seminary from 1920 to 1923 and studied part time at the New York School of Social Work from 1922 to 1925. In 1919, Hopkirk was married to Ruth Hathaway. Hopkirk’s social work career focused on child welfare. Between 1921 and 1934, he served as a consultant on child care institutions for the Child Welfare League of America. From 1935 to 1939, he was the superintendent of the Albany Home for Children. Hopkirk was on the staff of the Child Welfare League of America, serving periodically as executive director between 1940 and 1948 and as senior consultant from 1948 to 1952. In 1944, he authored Institutions Serving Children . From 1952 to 1959, he was Superintendent of the Louisville and Jefferson County Children’s Home in Louisville, Kentucky. At the time of his death on May 16, 1963, Hopkirk was a planning consultant for children’s welfare services in Corpus Christi, Texas, and chief supervisor of the Corpus Christi City-County Welfare Division.
Editor’s Note: Below is a report from the files of the Child Welfare League describing the appointment of Howard Hopkirk as Executive Director, his earlier contributions and his resignation because of a health condition.
Child Welfare League Years 1940-1948
Executive Director Howard W. Hopkirk: (September 1, 1940-December 16, 1948)
The election of Howard W. Hopkirk as Executive Director was voted and approved at the Board of Directors meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 28, 1940; and the announcement of his appointment was made at the Annual Meeting there on May 30, 1940 The Future Program of the Child Welfare League of America as proposed by the Reorganization Committee was also accepted at the Annual Meeting as a logical continuation of the League’s twenty years of service, and as measures that were timely for its future.
Mr. Hopkirk was well-known to the League, having joined its staff on January 1, 1924, and serving almost eleven years as consultant to the institution field, after which he was Superintendent of the Albany Home for Children in New York for three and one-half years. He returned to the League in 1937 as a co-director of a major survey to be undertaken of the organizations and services of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of New York. Mr. Hopkirk’s wide acquaintance in and of the field qualified him preeminently for the duties that he assumed on September 1, 1940.
Note: *At the time the Board of Directors appointed Howard W. Hopkirk Executive Director, he had already made arrangements with the Russell Sage Foundation to write a book on institutions. The final draft was scheduled for August 31, 1941. An agreement was made between Mr. Hopkirk and the League that he would have the summer of 1940 to work on the book. He was also granted paid as well as unpaid vacation time during 1941 to complete this task. (the Foundation assumed his salary for the unpaid time.)
At the Board Meeting in Grand Rapids following the Annual Meeting, Mr. Leonard W. Mayo was elected President. Mr. Mayo, Associate Director of the Welfare Council of New York City, had been associated with the League in one capacity or another on the League’s Board from 1936-1968, and he carried the major responsibility for the League’s program for two or three months prior to Hopkirk’s arrival. He was, at one time, Assistant Director of the Children’s Village at Dobbs Ferry, New York, and had also served for several years on the faculty of the New York School of Social Work, and Case Western Reserve as Dean.
While on the League staff (from 1924-1934), and under Hopkirk’s direction, surveys had been conducted of all institutions for children affiliated with four major protestant churches: The Reformed Church in the United States; the Southern Presbyterian Church; the Northern Presbyterian Church; and the General Convention of the Christian Church. He had also been associated with different social service projects with national church officials of the Roman Catholic, Jewish, and non-sectarian and public institutions; and gave some attention to the fraternal orders. He had principal responsibility for surveys made for the trustees of these national religious organizations for many of their individual institutions, and for non-religious agencies with institutional programs. These included institutions for delinquents, such as the House of Reformation for Colored Boys at Cheltenham, MD.
His last· years as a staff member of the League were spent in efforts for the education of workers in children’s institutions. This included teaching at institutes conducted by the New York School of Social Work, and at Conferences. Much of his unique experience was woven into the League’s publication entitled: “Manual for Cottage Mothers in Institutions.”
Consultation with executives, trustees, and architects occupied much of his time. In this, he assisted institutions with planning new buildings, remodeling old buildings, developing new policies, and improving various aspects of their work.
In November 1948, Mr. Hopkirk was hospitalized and underwent surgery. He remained in the hospital for one month, and was told he would need six months to recouperate upon leaving the hospital. For this reason, Mr. Hopkirk resigned as Executive Director on December 16, 1948 with an agreement from the League that he would continue his services in the capacity of senior consultant with special responsibility for surveys and institutional care of children. By February of 1949, Mr. Hopkirk was showing steady improvement and assumed some of his responsibilities as senior consultant, working both at the League’s office and at home.
Ed: Note: Below is a resume prepared by Howard Hopkirk in 1961 when he was preparing to become a consultant on Child Welfare matters. The erroneous dates and other grammatical errors may be due to the condition of the original document. The latter part of the document provided a synopsis of his career for prospective clients.
BIOGRAPHICAL DATA – HOWARD W. HOPKIRK 11-8-61
Residence 526 Grant Place, Corpus Christi, Texas Phone Ulysses J-7423
Born March 21, 1894, Montrose, Iowa.
Married Ruth L. Hathaway, 1919. Children; Mrs. Dorothy (Eugene) Ackerman, Mrs. Eleanor (Donald) Stevens, Dr. John W. Hopkirk
EDUCATION – Reed College, A.B. (1920); Union Theological Seminary, 3 years study when 4 years required for degree, 1920-23; New York School of Social Work, courses for which credit was given at UTS, 1921-23; R.O.T.C., Presidio of San Francisco, 1917, rank 2nd, Lt. of Infantry.
PUBLICATIONS – INSTITUTIONS SERVING CHILDREN, published by Russell Sage Foundation, 1944, reprinted 1945, 1946. THE HOUSEMOTHER’ S GUIDE, (co-author with Edith A. Stern), published by the Commonwealth Fund, 1946. CHILD WELFARE, ORPHAN-ORPHANAGE, and RECREATION CENTERS, standing articles for Encyclopedia Americana, editions of 1953 and later. CHILD WELFARE AND CHILD LABOUR and CHILDREN’S Britannica. Articles on CHILD WELFARE for Britannica Book of the Year (1948-62) and Americana Annual (1950-62). Author also of numerous articles for periodicals, including professional journals.
EMPLOYMENT – 1959 to d. , Chief Supervisor, City-County Welfare Division, Corpus Christi, Texas.
1952 to 1959, Superintendent, Louisville & Jefferson County Children’s Home, Anchorage, Ky., maintaining adoption, boarding home, protective and institutional services for 1,400 children.
1948-1952. and 1924 to 1934, Child Welfare League of America, as Executive Director (1940-1948), as Consultant on Institutional Care (1924-1934), as Senior Consultant (1948-1952).
1940, Survey of the Beneficiaries of the Program of the Church and the Assessment of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of New York, Associate Director, (Leonard W. Mayo being Director).
1935-1939, Albany Home for Children, Albany, N. Y., Superintendent.
1920-1923, Part-time employment for one or two years as Boys Club Director, West Side YMCA; Ship Visitor, American Seamen’s Friend Society; Recreation Director, Hudson Guild, New York Orphanage (now Graham School), and Union Settlement, all in or near New York City.
1917-1918, Military service, concluding in 1 and 1/2years with 348 Machine Gun Battalion, 91st Division, honorable discharge as 1st Lieutenant.
1912 to 1915, Busby & Hopkirk, junior partner, insurance and realty business and also secretary to board of education, Coeur de Alene, Idaho, including financial accounting, purchasing, supervision of repairs and janitorial services, upkeep of 10 public schools. ‘
AFFILIATIONS – Member of governing board, Department of Social Welfare of the National Council of Churches (Chairman, 1950-52); Kentucky Planning Committee, 1960 White House Conference on Children and Youth. Member, National Association of Social Workers; First Presbyterian Church of Corpus Christi.
HOWARD W. HOPKIRK CHILD WELFARE CONSULTANT
526 Grant Place
Corpus Christi, Texas
(Phone Ulysses J-7423)
Available for consultations, surveys and staff training, beginning January 1, 1962, upon completion of a two-year assignment with the City-County Welfare Division in Corpus Christi. This followed seven years of rewarding experience in Kentucky as executive of the Louisville & Jefferson County Children’s Home. These two public welfare positions included responsibilities for children’s protective services, services to unwed mothers, adoptions and foster home and institutional care and treatment of dependent, delinquent and emotionally disturbed children.
Twenty years of active service with the Child Welfare League of America included consultations and surveys in most of the states. These included surveys of many children’s institutions and foster home services. During eight of these years, as Executive Director of the League (including the strenuous years of World War II), there was participation in local, state and national planning for child welfare. This included direction of surveys of child welfare needs and resources in cities perplexed by war time problems, including problems in the field of day care of children of working mothers. During the last nine years, time off from regular employment permitted completion of several surveys and teaching assignments. Teaching activities have included organization of in-service training in children’s institutions, work shops on child welfare and occasional lectures in schools of medicine, social work and theology.
After five years as Superintendent of the Albany Home for Children, this and other earlier experiences led to preparation of a Russell Sage Foundation publication, “Institutions Serving Children”. This book, first printed in 1944 (reprinted 1945, 1946) now is out of print. Though in need of revision it still is widely used in this and other countries as a guide for those operating children’s institutions.
Further information will be made available to prospective clients, including a list of typical surveys and consultations, quotations of fees and biographical data (also see “Who’s Who in America” ).
References: Howard Hopkirk files in the Child Welfare League of America Records. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Social Welfare History Archives. Minneapolis, MN. More information is available at: http://special.lib.umn.edu/findaid/xml/sw0055.xml
How to Cite this Article (APA Format): Mulhem, B & Hennessey, P. (2002). Howard W. Hopkirk (1894 – 1963) — Social worker, consultant on Child Care Institutions and executive director of the Child Welfare League of America. Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved [date accessed] from https://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/people/hopkirk-howard-w/