History

The Children’s Bureau is the first federal agency within the U.S. Government—and in fact, the world—to focus exclusively on improving the lives of children and families. Since its creation by President Taft in 1912, the Bureau has tackled some of our Nation’s most pressing social issues, including the following:

  • Infant and maternal death
  • Child labor
  • Orphanages
  • Child health and recreation
  • Delinquency and juvenile courts
  • Family economic security
  • Abused and neglected children
  • Foster care

In each of these areas, the Bureau has provided groundbreaking leadership and garnered critical resources to improve the lives of children and families.

Children's Bureau Video Series

In "The Children’s Bureau, 1912–2012: A Passionate Commitment. A Legacy of Leadership," Children’s Bureau leaders and staff—past and present—speak passionately about their commitment to the Bureau’s work and how that passion translates into better outcomes for children, families, and communities. The series also includes seven spotlight videos on key topics. Available in English and en Español.

Children’s Bureau Timeline

The Children’s Bureau timeline offers an engaging, decade-by-decade look at the Bureau’s rich history. The images and brief text take you on a unique journey through the key projects, initiatives, milestones, and political and social events through 2012 that shaped the evolution of child welfare in America.

The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (e-book)

As part of its centennial celebration, the Children’s Bureau researched and produced a written history of its first 100 years. The resulting e-book combines compelling text with striking historical images to tell the story of a small Federal agency that took on some of the most devastating social problems of the time, including high infant mortality, child labor, and child abuse and neglect. The e-book puts this history in the context of changing world events and social movements. It also offers a look at some of the determined leaders who helped shape the Bureau to be what it is today—a strong advocate for America’s children and families.

 

The Story of the Children's Bureau (brochure)

Explore the Children’s Bureau’s 100-year history of improving the lives of children and families through collaboration, research, assistance to States and Tribes, public awareness campaigns, and more.

View the online brochure in English and en Español. (PDF - 3.8 MB)

History of the Children's Bureau (presentation)

In September 2007, Dr. Cecelia Tichi, then Chair of Modern Culture in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, presented "Justice, Not Pity: Julia Lathrop, First Chief of the U.S. Children's Bureau.

A full PDF (157 KB) and audio mp3 (9.01 MB) are available.

Last Reviewed: August 9, 2019