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Bronner, Augusta Fox (1881–1966)

Bronner, Augusta Fox (1881–1966)

American clinical psychologist. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1881; died in Clearwater, Florida, in 1966; attended Columbia University Teachers College, Ph.D., 1914; married William Healy (a neurologist), 1931.

A pioneer in the study of delinquent and mentally challenged girls, Augusta Fox Bronner planned to be a teacher from the age of six. In 1903, supported by her mother who believed she should pursue a career, Bronner enrolled at Columbia University Teachers College, where, in addition to her studies, she was an assistant to educational psychologist Edward L. Thorndike. After graduating, she taught for five years before returning to Columbia for her Ph.D., where her groundbreaking thesis proved that, given equal determinates, girls with mental disabilities were no more likely to behave destructively than girls without disabilities. Published in 1914, the study became a classic, paving the way for increased understanding of the behaviors of both delinquent and mentally challenged youths.

In 1913, Bronner took a summer-school course at Harvard with neurologist William Healy, who would become her mentor, her collaborator, and, much later, her husband. Healy hired Bronner as a research psychologist at the Chicago Juvenile Psychopathic Institute, where she grappled with the difficulties of financing follow-up work with the institute's youngsters. She traveled to Boston, where she secured funding for a clinic to help young offenders. In 1917, with Healy, she opened the Judge Baker Foundation (subsequently renamed the Judge Baker Children's Center). The Foundation became the focus of their professional lives and made them respected experts in their field, although Bronner often let the more established Healy take the public limelight. She lectured at various Boston colleges but published very little, preferring the hands-on clinic setting. The couple married in 1932, after the death of Healy's wife, and retired to Clearwater, Florida, in 1946. Bronner died 20 years later, at the age of 85.


Bronner's papers are in the Ethel Sturges Dummer Papers in the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College, and at the Judge Baker Guidance Center archives in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

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