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Breckinridge, Sophonisba Preston (1866–1948)

American social worker and educator. Born in Lexington, Kentucky, on April 1, 1866; died in Chicago, Illinois, on July 30, 1948; daughter of William Campbell Preston Breckinridge (a lawyer who served in Congress) and Issas (Desha) Breckinridge; sister of Desha Breckinridge (editor of the Lexington Herald); sister-in-law ofMadeline McDowell Breckinridge (1872–1920); graduated from Wellesley College, S.B., 1888; granted Ph.D. in political science and economics from University of Chicago, 1901, JD, 1904, LL.D, Oberlin, 1919, University of Kentucky, 1925.

Selected publications:

Legal Tender: A Study in American Monetary History (1901); (with Edith Abbott) The Delinquent Child and the Home (1912); (with Marion Talbot) The Modern Household (1912); (with Edith Abbott) Truancy (1917); New Homes for Old (1921); (with sister-in-law Madeline McDowell Breckinridge) A Leader in the New South (1921); Family Welfare Work in a Metropolitan Community (1924); Public Welfare Administration (1927); Marriage and the Civil Rights of Women (1931); Women in the Twentieth Century (1933); The Family and the State and Social Work and the Courts (1934); The Illinois Poor Law and Its Administration (1939).

After teaching high school in Washington D.C. (1888–94), Sophonisba Breckinridge clerked in her father's Lexington law office for a year and became the first woman in Kentucky admitted to the state bar (1895). Three years later, she entered the University of Chicago, where she was the first woman to receive a law degree in the college's history; she began instructing at the University in 1903. A champion of progressive reforms, Breckinridge founded the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy with Julia Lathrop (1907), subsequently renamed the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (1920). She also founded the Immigrants' Protective League (1908), became vice-president of National Woman's Suffrage Association (1911), and was named delegate to the Women's Peace Conference at The Hague (1915). In 1912, Breckinridge co-authored The Delinquent Child and the Home with Edith Abbott and The ModernHousehold with Marion Talbot . She followed up her work with Abbott in 1917 with the report on Truancy and Non-Attendance in the Chicago Schools. At the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, Breckinridge was dean and professor of public welfare administration (1925–29), dean of College of Arts, Literature, and Science (1929–33), and professor emeritus of public welfare (1933–42). A pioneer in legislative social work and an early advocate for economic parity for women, she was also the founder of the Social Service Review, which she edited until her death in 1948.

suggested reading:

Fitzpatrick, Ellen. Endless Crusade. Oxford University Press, 1990.

Breckinridge, Sophonisba Preston (1866–1948)

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