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Hopkirk, Howard W.

in: People

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.


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.

EMPLOYMENT1959 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.



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:

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