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Centennial Moments

  • Adoptive parents meet their child for the first time, circa 1960.

    In 1957, the Children’s Bureau partnered with the Florida Department of Welfare and the Russell Sage Foundation to conduct one of the earliest studies of private adoptions.

    Adoptive parents meet their child for the first time, circa 1960.

    National Archives
  • President William H. Taft giving a speech believed to be the one described in the New York Times, April 26, 1912.

    The 1912 law establishing the Children’s Bureau called on the new agency to “investigate and report… upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people.”

    President William H. Taft giving a speech believed to be the one described in the New York Times, April 26, 1912.

    Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-11216
  • Logo from the 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.

    The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) collaborates with over 60 Federal and national partners in support of National Child Abuse Prevention Month each April to help protect children and strengthen communities.

    Logo from the 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.

    Paltech
  • Young Cuban refugee holding her dolls in a Florida airport, circa 1961.

    In the 1960s, the Children’s Bureau was designated the lead Federal agency for the care of unaccompanied Cuban refugee children.

    Young Cuban refugee holding her dolls in a Florida airport, circa 1961.

    State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/141481
  • A letter received by the Bureau dated April 28, 1915.

    The Bureau developed a reputation as an authority on child care, receiving as many as 400,000 letters per year. Mothers asked questions on diet, illnesses, how to keep a baby entertained, and more.

    A letter received by the Bureau dated April 28, 1915.

    National Archives
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, 1935.

    The Social Security Act of 1935 greatly expanded the Children’s Bureau’s program responsibilities. The Bureau went from distributing nearly $340,000 in 1930 to administering just under $11,000,000 by the end of the decade.

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, 1935.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
  • A recent public service announcement from AdoptUSKids.

    Approximately 20,000 children featured on AdoptUSKids’ national photolisting have found permanent families since the website’s launch in 2002. Funded by the Children’s Bureau, the photolisting is part of a multimedia campaign to connect adoptive families with children.

    A recent public service announcement from AdoptUSKids.

    http://www.adoptuskids.org/for-the-media/help-raise-public-awareness
  • Parents with child adopted from overseas, 1940s.

    After WWII, the Children’s Bureau oversaw the placement of thousands of European children evacuated to the United States. The Bureau provided standards of care and helped State and local agencies place the children in foster and adoptive homes.

    Parents with child adopted from overseas, 1940s.

    International Social Services/National Archives, College Park, MD
  • Babies sunbathing on garden lawn, circa February 1946.

    The Children’s Bureau encouraged sun baths and cod liver oil for infants—a simple and low-cost solution to prevent rickets, a debilitating early childhood disease.

    Babies sunbathing on garden lawn, circa February 1946.

    Library of Congress, LC-DIG-matpc-12765
  • Raising a Baby the Government Way: Mothers' Letters to the Children's Bureau

    The Bureau developed a reputation as an authority on child care, receiving as many as 400,000 letters per year. Mothers asked questions on diet, illnesses, how to keep a baby entertained, and more.

    Cover of Raising a Baby the Government Way: Mothers' Letters to the Children's Bureau, 1915–1932.

    The Maternal & Child Health Library at Georgetown University
  • Glossary of Certain Child-Welfare Terms in Spanish, Portuguese, French & English

    In 1942, to promote the use of U.S. child welfare literature in other countries, the Bureau published a glossary of child welfare terms in Spanish, Portuguese, and French with English translations. View the glossary (rev 1948).

    Cover of A Glossary of Certain Child-Welfare Terms in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English.

    The Maternal & Child Health Library at Georgetown University
  • Children’s Bureau poster commemorating Children’s Year, circa 1918.

    The Children’s Bureau proclaimed “Children’s Year” beginning April 1918 and mobilized 11 million volunteers across the nation to reduce infant deaths by educating parents.

    Children’s Bureau poster commemorating Children’s Year, circa 1918.

    Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-9867
  • Cover of The Children’s Charter.

    The 1931 Children’s Charter supported the protection of 19 fundamental rights of children, including: For every child understanding and the guarding of his personality as his most precious right.

    Cover of The Children’s Charter.

    National Archives
  • President Clinton puts his arm around adopted child, Charday Mays

    Since November 1995, National Adoption Month has focused on raising awareness about the adoption of children and youth in foster care. Read the Presidential Proclamation.

    President Clinton puts his arm around adopted child, Charday Mays, at an Adoption Month event in the East Room of the White House, circa November 24, 1998.

    William J. Clinton Presidential Library
  • Poster promoting reading and library use; an Ill. Work Projects Adm. art project

    Following World War II, the Children’s Bureau sponsored back-to-school drives for youth who had left school to work on war-related efforts.

    Poster promoting reading and library use, created by an Illinois Work Projects Administration art project circa 1940.

    Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-5218
  • Women welders on the way to their job at the Todd Erie Basin dry dock, circa '43

    Responding to the large numbers of women entering the workforce during WWII, the Children’s Bureau developed standards for day care for children of working mothers and a maternity policy for industry.

    Women welders on the way to their job at the Todd Erie Basin dry dock, circa 1943.

    Library of Congress, LC-USW33-025834-C
  • Grace Abbott, date unknown.

    “Justice for all children is the great ideal in democracy.” —Grace Abbott, 2nd Children’s Bureau Chief, c. 1930.

    Grace Abbott, date unknown.

    National Archives
  • Cover of Care of Children Coming to the U.S. for Safety Under Atty. Gen's Order

    After WWII, the Children’s Bureau oversaw the placement of thousands of European children evacuees sent to the United States. The Bureau provided standards of care and helped State and local agencies place the children in foster and adoptive homes.

    Cover of Care of Children Coming to the United States for Safety Under the Attorney General’s Order of July 13, 1940.

    The Maternal & Child Health Library at Georgetown University
  • President William Taft signed the legislation creating the Children’s Bureau.

    It took 11 Congressional bills and 6 years before the Children’s Bureau was signed into law on April 9, 1912.

    President William Taft signed the legislation creating the Children’s Bureau.

    Library of Congress, LC-DIG-hec-15152
  • Julia Lathrop guided the Children’s Bureau’s formative years, 1912–1921.

    Julia Lathrop—the first Chief of the Children’s Bureau— was the first female head of a U.S. Federal agency.

    Julia Lathrop guided the Children’s Bureau’s formative years, 1912–1921.

    Library of Congress, LC-DIG-npcc-19209
  • Martha Eliot and Katharine Lenroot with a document from President Harry Truman

    Five pioneering women led the Bureau for over half a century—Julia Lathrop (1912-21), Grace Abbot (1921-34), Katharine Lenroot (1934-51), Martha Eliot (1951-56), and Katherine Oettinger (1957-68). Learn more about the Children’s Bureau’s leadership.

    Martha Eliot and Katharine Lenroot with a document from President Harry Truman, circa 1951.

    National Archives
  • Lillian Wald, first discussed the idea for a Federal children’s bureau.

    In 1903, social reform activist Lillian Wald mused to a friend, “If the Government can have a department to look after the Nation’s farm crops, why can’t it have a bureau to look after the Nation’s child crop?” Learn more about the Children’s Bureau’s origins.

    Lillian Wald, who first discussed the idea for a Federal children’s bureau over morning coffee with Florence Kelley.

    Library of Congress, LC-DIG-hec-19537
  • The Clark Family in Columbus, MS, after moving to eight mill villages in 5 year

    Child welfare standards in 1919 advised, “the child’s welfare is best promoted by keeping him in his own home.” CB continues to support family-centered services to strengthen families and keep children safely in their homes.

    The Clark Family in Columbus, MS, after moving to eight mill villages in 5 years, circa 1911.

    Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-02128
  • An American Indian mother and her baby near Little Fork, MN, circa 1937.

    The Children’s Bureau was created with an initial budget of $25,640. Today, CB has an annual budget of nearly $8 billion, including grants to States, Tribes, and other organizations.

    An American Indian mother and her baby near Little Fork, MN, circa 1937.

    Library of Congress, LC-USF33-011258-M5
  • Cover of Infant Care, stamped by Congressman William Carss of Minnesota, 1926.

    By 1930, three popular Children’s Bureau publications—Prenatal Care, Infant Care, and Child Care—had a combined circulation of more than 10 million.

    Cover of Infant Care, stamped by Congressman William Carss of Minnesota, 1926.

  • A nurse records a family’s medical history as the mother reports it.

    While husbands and fathers fought in WWII, the Children’s Bureau provided health services to 1.5 million pregnant women and babies. Services included prenatal exams, hospital delivery, mothers’ postpartum exams, and more. Find out more about the Children’s Bureau’s services to families during WWII.

    A nurse records a family’s medical history as the mother, with her infant and little girl, reports it.

    National Archives
  • Migrant mother of seven hungry children, circa 1936.

    During the Great Depression, the Children’s Bureau played a vital role by documenting conditions and collecting national relief statistics. These efforts helped the Federal Emergency Relief Administration direct aid.

    Migrant mother of seven hungry children, circa 1936.

    Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-03055
  • National Foster Care Month screenshot

    May 1988 was the first National Foster Care Month (NFCM). Today, NFCM still brings attention to the needs of children and youth in care while acknowledging the individuals who make meaningful differences in their lives. Learn more about this year’s Foster Care Month initiative .

    National Foster Care Month screenshot

  • Research findings on infant mortality rates according to fathers’ earnings.

    The Children’s Bureau is part of the Department of Health & Human Services. Over the years, it's belonged to Commerce & Labor; the Social Security Administration; Health, Education, & Welfare; and the Public Health Service.

    A Children’s Bureau staff member illustrates research findings on infant mortality rates according to fathers’ earnings, circa 1923.

    Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-127253

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