This reader features the most influential and insightful writings of Grace Abbott (1878–1939), a tireless and brilliant social reformer in the early twentieth century. These writings contributed to the development of social programs that safeguarded mothers and children, protected immigrants from abuse, and rescued child laborers from the appalling conditions of the time. Framed by reminiscences and observations on her life by her sister, Edith Abbott, and other important historical figures, these writings recapture a critical turning point—and a significant voice—in the never-ending struggle for social justice in this nation.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter said he did not believe that “the American experience would disclose a finer illustration of the rare art of public administration” than Abbott and urged that her work be recorded for posterity. In Abbott's case, this “art” meant making life better and making real change possible for countless immigrants, women, and children. The Grace Abbott Reader, the first collection of Abbott’s stirring words, shows that the causes she pursued with fiery conscience and fierce determination are as relevant in our day as they were in hers.