© 2014 University of Chicago Library
Breckinridge, Sophonisba P. Papers
2.5 linear feet (2 boxes)
Special Collections Research Center
Sophonisba P. Breckinridge (1866-1948) was a social scientist and social work educator. The papers include manuscripts of her unfinished autobiography which describes residents at Hull House; correspondence; newspaper clippings; data from a study on Americanization (1918-1919); and sales and royalty records of her books. Correspondents include Jane Addams and Julia Lathrop.
The collection is open for research.
When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Breckinridge, Sophonisba P. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge was born April 1, 1866, in Lexington, Kentucky, the daughter of William C. P. Breckinridge and Issa Desha. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1888, and in 1895 was admitted to the Kentucky bar. Her law practice did not prosper, and a Wellesley classmate, May Cook, persuaded her to go to the University of Chicago to take a position as secretary to Marion Talbot, the Dean of Women.
Breckinridge received a Ph.M. degree from the University of Chicago in 1897 and a Ph.D. in political science and economics in 1901. In 1904 she became the first woman to receive the J.D. degree from the University. She taught briefly in the Department of Political Science and then joined Talbot in the Department of Household Administration, becoming an assistant professor in 1909. She also served as head of Green Hall, one of the women's dormitories, and resided there for most of her career.
While teaching at the University, Breckinridge spent her summers at Hull-House and became involved with many of the activities there. She also worked at the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, serving as its dean, and was instrumental in the merger of the school with the University to form the School of Social Service Administration in 1920. Her teaching, research, and publications helped to define social work as a profession and mold it into an academic discipline. She was made a full professor in 1925, and was named Samuel Deutsch Professor of Public Welfare Administration in 1929, remaining active until a few months before her death in 1948.
The collection is divided into two series: General and Oversize.
Series I contains excerpts of an autobiography and a small amount of correspondence. Correspondents include Jane Addams and Julia Lathrop. Other material includes newspaper clippings, biographical materials, articles, a speech, and records of sales and royalties of Breckinridge's books. Of possible interest to researchers are a few records of home visits to immigrant families for a study of Americanization in 1918-1919.
The autobiography found in Folders 2 through 13 consists of manuscript and typescript fragments, some of which bear dates between 1944 and 1947. The drafts of various sections have been arranged to follow Sophonisba Breckinridge's own outline, although there is considerable overlap in the narrative. Much of the material concerns Breckinridge's family background, and includes portraits of her grandparents, her father, her sister Curry and brother Desha. Sophonisba Breckinridge also wrote about her early years at the University of Chicago, particularly during her term as assistant to Marion Talbot, and her account includes anecdotes and asides about co-education, race relations on campus, and student life in general.
The oversize series contains a poster from the Hyde Park League of Women Voters.
The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:
University Presidents' Papers
Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy. Records
National Conference of Social Work. Records
School of Social Service Administration. Records
Edith and Grace Abbott. Papers and Addenda
Julius Rosenwald. Papers
Marion Talbot. Papers
Archival Biographical Files
University of Chicago Photographic Archive
A large collection of Sophonisba Breckinridge's correspondence is included in the Breckinridge Family Papers at the Library of Congress.
Series I: General
|Box 1 Folder 1|
Americanization Study – Family Interviews, 1918-1919
|Box 1 Folder 2|
Autobiography – Breckinridge Genealogies, Outlines, undated
|Box 1 Folder 3|
Autobiography – Introduction – Typescripts and Manuscript, undated
|Box 1 Folder 4|
Autobiography – Breckinridge and Cabell Families – Typescripts, Manuscripts, Source Material, undated
|Box 1 Folder 5|
Autobiography – Desha and Curry Families – Typescript, Notes, Article, 1942, undated
|Box 1 Folder 6|
Autobiography – Education (1880s) – Manuscript, undated
|Box 1 Folder 7|
Autobiography – "1894-1900:The Late Years," Typescript and Manuscript, undated
|Box 1 Folder 8|
Autobiography – Unordered Manuscript Pages, undated
|Box 1 Folder 9|
Autobiography – "1901-1919"
|Box 1 Folder 10|
Autobiography – Early University of Chicago, undated
|Box 1 Folder 11|
Autobiography, "The Department of Household Administration," undated
|Box 1 Folder 12|
Autobiography, "The Russell Sage Foundation," undated
|Box 1 Folder 13|
Autobiography, "Last Will and Testament," undated
|Box 1 Folder 14|
Book List and Sales Records, 1943, undated
|Box 1 Folder 15|
Breckinridge, Sophonisba, "Social Security and Public Welfare" – Text of Address, 1937
|Box 1 Folder 16|
Clipping Photocopies and Press Releases re Sophonisba Breckinridge, 1933-1946
|Box 1 Folder 17|
Correspondence re Breckinridge Family Papers, 1927-1930
|Box 1 Folder 18|
Correspondence re Family Welfare Work in a Metropolitan Community, 1925
|Box 1 Folder 19|
Correspondence – General, 1908-1946
|Box 1 Folder 20|
Correspondence – Graff, Edith, G. G., 1942
|Box 1 Folder 21|
Correspondence – School of Social Services Administration – Photocopies, undated
|Box 1 Folder 22|
Estate of Desha Breckinridge – Correspondence and Court Documents, 1905-1937
|Box 1 Folder 23|
Event Programs and Invitations, 1933-1946
|Box 1 Folder 24|
Family Welfare Association of America, Pathfinding Committee on the Study of Governmental Relief Methods -- Report and Correspondence, 1932
|Box 1 Folder 25|
Neutrality/Peace Issues – Articles, 1936-1937
|Box 1 Folder 26|
Neutrality/Peace Issues – Events, 1937
|Box 1 Folder 27|
Neutrality/Peace Issues – Government Publications, 1937
|Box 1 Folder 28|
Neutrality/Peace Issues – Newsletters and Mailings, 1936-1937
|Box 1 Folder 29|
Obituaries and memorials, 1948-1949
|Box 1 Folder 30|
Pre-Printed Greeting Cards, 1938, 1940
Series II: Oversize
|Box 2 Folder 1|
Hyde Park League of Women Voters – "Neutrality" Poster, circa 1937