Edith Abbott was born in Grand Island Nebraska in 1876 (“Edith”, n.d.). Her parents were both active in civil rights and the government. Her father, Othman Ali Abbott, served in the Civil War and her mother, Elizabeth Abbott, was a respected high school principle prior to marrying Othman (Coston, 1986). Her father was also the first Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska, and her mother was an abolitionist and a women’s suffrage leader (“Edith”, n.d.). Edith’s younger sister, Grace, was also involved in public welfare and current social problems of the time (“Edith”, n.d.). Both Abbott sisters gained their pacifist beliefs, interest in progressive reform, and dedication to equal rights from their mother Elizabeth Abbott (Coston, 1986). Edith studied at the University of Nebraska and went to graduate school at the University of Chicago, where she earned her doctorate in political economy in 1905 (Costin, 1983). She was very involved in both her education and the education of others. Edith spent a year in Boston with the Women’s Trade Union League and the Carnegie Institution, along with a year in England studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science (Costin, 1983). The year she spent in England pushed Edith and shaped her beliefs into the person she became (Coston, 1986). She then taught a year of Economics at Wellesley College followed by becoming the dean of School of Social Service Administration in 1924 (Costin, 1983). Edith returned to Chicago to develop a new method of social research, where she spent the remainder of her career (Costin, 1983). She retired in Nebraska in 1953 and died there at the age of 80 (“National”, n.d.).
Edith spent the majority of her career trying to c...
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... looks or gender.
How This Has Impacted Me:
Learning about Edith Abbott has caused me to think more about the way we learn and the way the curriculum is structured, not just for social work but also for every class. Many people have worked very hard to make college what it is today, and we usually don’t even know their name. Edith Abbott changed the way field placement is incorporated into every university in the country. She also believed that social work is a mix of many different majors, which is what we learn today. The way that Edith Abbott spoke out against controversial issues makes me want to become a social worker even more. It’s not a perfect world, but anything I can do to make someone else’s life a little better would make me happy. Making other’s feel good, makes me feel good in return, which is one of the reasons why I chose social work as my major.
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