Women's Intellectual Contributions to the Study of Mind and Society

Students, as part of an advanced seminar, examined and wrote about the lives of these women, their intellectual contributions, and the unique impact and special problems that being female had on their careers.

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Edith Abbott (1876- 1957)

Her Life Beginning

Edith Abbott was born in Grand Island, Nebraska o September 26, 1876. Her parents' names were Elizabeth Griffin and Othman Abbott. The Abbots had four beautiful children, in which Edith was the second sibling. Edith's mother was a feminist, abolitionist, republican, and Quaker. Her mother also played an important role in part of the movement for women's higher education. Her mother then graduated form Rockford Seminary in 1868. On the other hand her father was a dedicated soldier in the civil war, a frontier, lawyer, and a banker. He also was the first lieutenant governor of the state of Nebraska. When Edith was six years old she started off as an active participant in helping the women suffrage movement. Edith helped Susan B. Anthony while she was on her national campaign for women's suffrage. In 1888 her parents enrolled her in a private school called Brownell Hall. Edith then graduated from the school with top honors in 1893. She was appointed the valedictorian and winner of a gold medal for her accomplishments as well. In the midst of early life living with her family. Edith's father went through substantial hardship at his place of employment. Her father who at the time was working at National Bank where her fathers status was director, stockholder, and attorney. At that point in time there was a hard devastating hit on Edith's family finances. His family then had to work for years to repay for the loss of their hard worked money. At this specific hard time in the Abbott family life, the Abbott girls had an opportunity to visit the Columbian World's Fair in Chicago. While visiting the University of Chicago they both found what future work they wanted to explore into. (Degan, 1988)

Her School Days

From 1893 to 1895, Edith Abbott had the opportunity to teach at a high school in her hometown of Nebraska. This teaching opportunity gave her the inspiration to take her education to another level after high school. Edith then began to take classes to become more prepared to attend college. In 1901 she attended the University of Nebraska and from there, she then attended the University of Chicago. While attending the University of Chicago, she became interested in economists, where she then met economic specialists Thorstein Veblen and James L. Laughlin. While being acquaintance with the two individuals she then broadened her horizon and took an interest in political economy. In 1903 while attending the University of Chicago she then completed her studies and earned a Ph.D. in economics in 1905. (Zophy, 1990)

Her Mission In Life

After successfully completing her college degrees, in 1905 Edith moved to Boston where she fulfilled a job position based on her accomplishments and achievements that she received at the University of Chicago. Edith was a secretary at the Women's Trade Union League for middle-class and working-class women. These women eventually became recognized as a researcher for the American Economic Association. Which then sent her to Washington D.C as a researcher. Her assignments consist of working on industrial history of the United States, which was founded by Carnegie Institution. After this assignment proceeded other numerous jobs from abroad. In 1906 Edith Abbott traveled to New York City to seek out another assignment. At that particular time she resided at the College Settlement on the cities rural Eastside. Edith then began to observe and study the working conditions of the city workers in the cigar factories and the garment industry. Through out Edith's life she has been recognized for her outstanding achievements. (McHenry, 1983)

Her Profession

In 1906 Edith Abbott was on the path too her destination. She continued to travel in and out of the states to find her place in life. Edith went to England where she met two social activists by the name of Beatrice and Sidney Webb. The two then became friends and encouraged Edith to become a social investigator and poor law reformer.

Concluding Remarks

Edith Abbott then continued to get more experience by working at St. Hildas settlement house in Bethnal Green in London's East end. This encounter then gave her the experience and connection she needed to prepare her for her professional endeavor. In 1907 Edith agreed to a position as an instructor of economics at Wellesley College. Edith then returned to Chicago to work as an assistant to Sophonisba Breckinridge. Her School of Civics and Philanthropy. For the next ten years Edith and along with her sister dedicated their life working and living at the Hull House. Jane Addams founded it, which then lead to social, legal, and political campaigns. Those campaigns consist of housing, child labor, woman suffrage, and protective labor legislation. While living in the Hull House along with her job description, gave her many opportunities to explore many avenues of urban life. This opportunity and outcome then became a publication of approximately 100 books and articles. Edith Abbott took on so many roles as a woman. She was a dean of a university and did work in social work and also in social form. Her services also involved in forming public policies regarding assistance for the poor. Over the other years of her life she continued to dedicate her years toward social work research and helping others. What a remarkable women. (Zophy, 1990)


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