Skip to main content

Bureau of Vocations for Women (1921)

Bureau of Vocations for Women (1921)

published in Directory of Business and Professional Women in Richmond, Virginia, 1921


Bureau of Vocations for Women statement
in The Directory of Business and Professional Women, Richmond, Virginia, 1921
Library of Congress via Internet Archive


This published statement outlines the mission and activities of the Bureau of Vocations for Women (originally the Woman’s Occupational Bureau) founded by Orie Latham Hatcher. Hatcher initiated the idea of a school of social work in Richmond, Va. That school, The Richmond School of Social Economy, was the kernel that would eventually grow into Virginia Commonwealth University.

In 1921, the Virginia Bureau of Vocations for Women changed its name to the Southern Woman’s Educational Alliance. While the organization still maintained its original purpose of providing vocational guidance to southern women, it expanded its mission to include conducting research on existing vocational guidance programs.

By 1937, the Southern Woman’s Educational Alliance changed its name once more to the Alliance for the Guidance of Rural Youth. This name change reflected a shift in priorities to encompass vocational guidance for rural girls and boys across the country.



The Bureau of Vocations for Women

Established 1914–Incorporated 1918

Hotel Richmond, Richmond, Va.

PURPOSE–To help the southern girl secure the best education for life, meaning first the best possible general education and after that, training in a wisely chosen calling. The work is therefore concerned with both general and vocational education.

I. Investigation of Conditions Controlling Educational and Economic Opportunities for Women. 

Investigations in 1920 have been the following:

  1. Causes other than salary for the exodus from teaching.
  2. Comparison of conditions obtaining in teaching with those affecting women in business.
  3. Vocational survey in thirteen southern colleges.
  4. Opportunities for business training in the South.
  5. Opportunities open to the educated blind.

II. Information and Guidance: (1) As to General Education; (2) Vocational Information and Guidance. 

Purpose–To point the way to education, to reduce misfits in choice of work and the waste of youth and capacity through lack of information and friendly help. This help is given without charge to any girl or woman.

In 1920, 1476 were provided individually with information.

High schools, colleges, business women’s clubs, etc., totalling audiences of 12,500, conservatively estimated, were addressed by vocational experts provided by the Bureau of Vocations through its Speakers’ Bureau.

III. Helping to Provide More Training in the South.

1. Helping to provide types of training new in the South, i.e., for secretarial and social work.

2. Helping to open to women types of training previously closed.

3. Co-operation to provide better business training.

IV. Securing Scholarships and Loans for Southern Girls–Especially for Those in Rural Districts 

Within the past year, fifty scholarships from institutions ranging from Louisiana to Massachusetts have be secured. They provide for study in colleges, business and art schools, etc.

IV.[sic] How You Can Help.

1. If you see a girl bewildered as to education or choice of a field of work, or a woman unhappy from the wrong choice, tell them about the Bureau of Vocations. Possibly it can give the light needed.

2. Give your moral and financial support to the work by becoming a member of the Bureau of Vocations Association. Dues $1.00 to $25.00 No obligation involved for meetings or work.

3. If you can lend at interest to ambitious, capable students any amount of money, however small, let us know. Such investments are safe and are urgently needed.

President–Orie Latham Hatcher

Executive Secretary–M. E. Garlick.

The name is shortly to be changed, in order to emphasize the fundamental educational aim, but the present name will be continued for the vocational aspects of the work.



This work may also be read through the Internet Archive.


For further reading:

Crouch, L. (2020) Orie Latham Hatcher. Social Welfare History Project

Bureau of Vocations for Women, September 1915. (Woman’s Occupational Bureau), Social Welfare History Project

War Opens Up New Fields for Women’s Endeavor. Orie Latham Hatcher and the Bureau of Vocations, July 1917, Social Welfare History Project

Campbell, A. W. (2020). Richmond School of Social Economy – Beginnings. October 1916 – July 1917. Social Welfare History Project.

Virginia Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. Records, 1921-2009. Accession 44419. Organization records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond 23219


Image Portal icon


Resources related to this topic may be found in the Social Welfare History Image Portal