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THE FEDERAL CHILDREN’S BUREAU AND ITS FIRST DIRECTOR

THE FEDERAL CHILDREN’S BUREAU AND ITS FIRST DIRECTOR An act creating a Child Welfare Bureau was recently placed, with the President's approval, on our national statute-books. This legislation had been earnestly and continuously advocated for several years by progressive men and women, and during its pendency in Congress no reasonable argument was ever advanced against it. Certain conservative statesmen were shocked that “children were to be treated like pigs,” but they were silenced by the retort of the more enlightened that, as a matter of fact, pigs were being better treated by the federal government than children, since the government has for years gathered and disseminated information concerning the welfare of pigs, but the questions relating to the life, health and welfare of children it has left almost untouched. The new bureau will be part of the Department of Commerce and Labor. Its duties and functions will be wholly educational. It will make investigations, collect information, classify, digest and publish it, and furnish it on application to state, municipal and other authorities, as well as to private bodies or persons. It will study laws and ordinances bearing on child-labor, education, play, discipline, juvenile courts and like institutions, and all measures or proposed measures designed to protect, reclaim or healthfully develop childhood. Such studies will in turn suggest and influence further legislation. It was in the highest degree important to give this new and largely experimental bureau a good start, and President Taft has done this, rising fully to his opportunity and surprising many politicians by appointing as the director and chief of the institution Miss Julia C. Lathrop of Chicago. She will be the first woman to direct a federal bureau. Her fitness for the position is quite exceptional; indeed, there are few whose qualifications, both natural and acquired, could be fairly compared with those of Miss Lathrop. Her natural qualifications comprise administrative ability, tact, fidelity to ideals, industry and common sense. The experience which fits her for her new position is the result of a public career that began in 1893, when she was appointed a member of the Illinois State Board of Charities. This board had supervision of all the insane of the state, and during the eight years of her connection with it Miss Lathrop made several trips to Europe to study different methods of caring for mental disease. She has always urged the adoption in this country of the system of boarding out in chronic cases and of psychopathic hospitals for the study and care of acute cases. It had always been nominally the duty of the State Board of Charities in Illinois to visit every county almshouse and industrial school in the state, and Miss Lathrop made this her duty, in the performance of which she discovered shocking neglect of the children who were the wards of the state, dependent children in almshouses, delinquent children in common jails. As a result of this investigation she became one of the far-sighted workers for a juvenile court act. The law, however, only established the court; the payment of probation officers and the care of the children pending their commitment remained the task of those who had worked for the law. Miss Lathrop was one among those who succeeded in obtaining the best juvenile court building and detention home for children in the United States. She has been of late years vice-president of the Juvenile Protective League, which now, since the county has assumed the control and payment of the probation officers, devotes itself to preventive work of all kinds. She is also chairman of the Juvenile Psychopathic Institute, an organization which undertakes the scientific study of juvenile delinquency in relation to physical defects and is pledged to the principle that a physician as well as a judge is needed in every court dealing with children. JAMA. 1912;58(17):1288 Back to top Article Information Editor's Note: JAMA 100 Years Ago is transcribed verbatim from articles published a century ago, unless otherwise noted. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png JAMA American Medical Association

THE FEDERAL CHILDREN’S BUREAU AND ITS FIRST DIRECTOR

JAMA , Volume 307 (16) – Apr 25, 2012

THE FEDERAL CHILDREN’S BUREAU AND ITS FIRST DIRECTOR

Abstract

An act creating a Child Welfare Bureau was recently placed, with the President's approval, on our national statute-books. This legislation had been earnestly and continuously advocated for several years by progressive men and women, and during its pendency in Congress no reasonable argument was ever advanced against it. Certain conservative statesmen were shocked that “children were to be treated like pigs,” but they were silenced by the retort of the more enlightened that,...
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Publisher
American Medical Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.
ISSN
0098-7484
eISSN
1538-3598
DOI
10.1001/jama.2012.496
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

An act creating a Child Welfare Bureau was recently placed, with the President's approval, on our national statute-books. This legislation had been earnestly and continuously advocated for several years by progressive men and women, and during its pendency in Congress no reasonable argument was ever advanced against it. Certain conservative statesmen were shocked that “children were to be treated like pigs,” but they were silenced by the retort of the more enlightened that, as a matter of fact, pigs were being better treated by the federal government than children, since the government has for years gathered and disseminated information concerning the welfare of pigs, but the questions relating to the life, health and welfare of children it has left almost untouched. The new bureau will be part of the Department of Commerce and Labor. Its duties and functions will be wholly educational. It will make investigations, collect information, classify, digest and publish it, and furnish it on application to state, municipal and other authorities, as well as to private bodies or persons. It will study laws and ordinances bearing on child-labor, education, play, discipline, juvenile courts and like institutions, and all measures or proposed measures designed to protect, reclaim or healthfully develop childhood. Such studies will in turn suggest and influence further legislation. It was in the highest degree important to give this new and largely experimental bureau a good start, and President Taft has done this, rising fully to his opportunity and surprising many politicians by appointing as the director and chief of the institution Miss Julia C. Lathrop of Chicago. She will be the first woman to direct a federal bureau. Her fitness for the position is quite exceptional; indeed, there are few whose qualifications, both natural and acquired, could be fairly compared with those of Miss Lathrop. Her natural qualifications comprise administrative ability, tact, fidelity to ideals, industry and common sense. The experience which fits her for her new position is the result of a public career that began in 1893, when she was appointed a member of the Illinois State Board of Charities. This board had supervision of all the insane of the state, and during the eight years of her connection with it Miss Lathrop made several trips to Europe to study different methods of caring for mental disease. She has always urged the adoption in this country of the system of boarding out in chronic cases and of psychopathic hospitals for the study and care of acute cases. It had always been nominally the duty of the State Board of Charities in Illinois to visit every county almshouse and industrial school in the state, and Miss Lathrop made this her duty, in the performance of which she discovered shocking neglect of the children who were the wards of the state, dependent children in almshouses, delinquent children in common jails. As a result of this investigation she became one of the far-sighted workers for a juvenile court act. The law, however, only established the court; the payment of probation officers and the care of the children pending their commitment remained the task of those who had worked for the law. Miss Lathrop was one among those who succeeded in obtaining the best juvenile court building and detention home for children in the United States. She has been of late years vice-president of the Juvenile Protective League, which now, since the county has assumed the control and payment of the probation officers, devotes itself to preventive work of all kinds. She is also chairman of the Juvenile Psychopathic Institute, an organization which undertakes the scientific study of juvenile delinquency in relation to physical defects and is pledged to the principle that a physician as well as a judge is needed in every court dealing with children. JAMA. 1912;58(17):1288 Back to top Article Information Editor's Note: JAMA 100 Years Ago is transcribed verbatim from articles published a century ago, unless otherwise noted.

Journal

JAMAAmerican Medical Association

Published: Apr 25, 2012

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