The Children's Bureau


In 1908, the National Child Labor Committee hired photographer Lewis Hine to document child labor
View more Hine photographs
Child laborers, Library of Congress,

This picture, from the National Child Labor Committee's collection, shows female factory inspectors, including Florence Kelley, employed by various states and cities, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-04942

After leaving Hull House, Florence Kelley moved to the Henry Street Settlement in New York. There, she and Lillian Wald, working through the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), spearheaded an effort to create a federal children’s bureau. After years of work, in 1912 Congress created the Children’s Bureau in the Federal Department of Labor. As a result of intense lobbying, President Taft appointed Hull House resident Julia Lathrop to head the agency. She was the first woman to head a federal agency.

As head of the Children’s Bureau, Lathrop undertook programs to reduce maternal and infant mortality. In 1921, as a result of the efforts of Lathrop and her supporters, Congress passed the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act, the nation’s first social-welfare measure. This act provided federal funding to health care programs for mothers and infants.

A member of the Children's Bureau makes a poster concerning child health, 1923
Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-127254

A Children's Bureau poster shows the relationship between fathers' earnings and infant mortality, 1923
Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-127253





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