Sophonisba Breckinridge bigraphy, stories - lawyer, social worker, women's rights activist and education reformer

Sophonisba Breckinridge : biography

April 1, 1866 - July 30, 1948

Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge (April 1, 1866 – July 30, 1948) was an American activist, Progressive Era social reformer, social scientist and innovator in higher education.


Born in Lexington, Kentucky, Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge was a member of the political active and social elite Desha family and Breckinridge family. She was the daughter of Issa Desha Breckinridge who was the second wife of Col. William C.P. Breckinridge, a member of Congress from Kentucky, editor and a lawyer. Her grandfather was the abolitionist minister Robert Jefferson Breckinridge. Her great-grandfather was John Breckinridge. She was the second child of five: Eleanor Breckinridge Chalkley, Desha Breckinridge, Curry Desha Breckinridge.


She wrote many books on family, public welfare, and children.

  • The Wage-earning Woman and the State: a reply to Miss Minnie Bronson (191-)
  • The Delinquent Child and the Home (1912)
  • Papers presented at the conferences held during the Chicago Child Welfare Exhibit, The Child in the City (New York, Amo Press, 1970 - reprint of the 1912 edition)
  • The Modern Household (1912, 2nd edition, 1916)
  • Truancy and Non-Attendance in the Chicago Schools: a study of the social aspects of the compulsory education and child labor legislation of Illinois (1917)
  • . Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1921.
  • . New York: Harper and Brothers Publisher, 1921.
  • Family Welfare Work in the Metropolitan Community: selected case records (1924)
  • Public Welfare Administration in the United States, select documents (1927)
  • The Illinois adoption law and its administration (1928)
  • Marriage and the Civic Rights of Women: separate domicil and independent citizenship (1931)
  • Women in the Twentieth Century: a study of their political, social and economic activities (1933)
  • The Family and the State, select documents (1934)
  • The Ohio poor law and its administration ... and appendixes with selected decisions of the Ohio Supreme Court (1934)
  • Public welfare administration, with special reference to the organization of state departments; outline and bibliography; supplementary to Public welfare administration in the United states: select documents (1934)*Social work and the courts; select statutes and judicial decisions (1934)
  • The development of poor relief legislation in Kansas, by Grace A. Browning... and appendixes with court decisions edited by Sophonisba P. Breckinridge (1935)
  • The Michigan poor law: its development and administration with special reference to state provision for medical care of the indigent / by Isabel Campbell Bruce and Edith Eickhoff, edited with an introductory note and selected court decisions by Sophonisba P. Breckinridge (1936)
  • Indiana poor law; its development and administration, with special reference to the provisions of state care for the sick poor (1936)
  • The Tenements of Chicago, 1908-1935] New York: Arno Press, 1970; reprint of 1936 edition)
  • The illegitimate child in Illinois, by Dorothy Frances Puttee ... and Mary Ruth Colby ... edited by Sophonisba P. Breckinridge (1937)
  • State administration of child welfare in Illinois (1937)
  • The Illinois poor law and its administration (1939)
  • The Stepfather in the Family (1940)

Social Activism

When she obtained an appointment as a part-time professor in the Department of Household Administration which was a part of the Sociology department,Fitzpatrick, Ellen F. . New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. in 1907, she also became a resident of Hull House. As a resident of Hull House until 1920, she became active in several causes, including:

  • Women's suffrage
  • African-American civil rights (she helped establish the NAACP)
  • Labor
  • Immigration
  • Children's protection and labor laws reform
  • Progressive Party
  • Pacifism
Living octopus

Living octopus

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