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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 220

Records of the Boston Parents' Council, 1930-1938


Minutes, committee records, correspondence, etc., of the Boston Parents' Council, a group that sought to educate parents about current research on child development.


  • Creation: 1930-1938

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Boston Parents' Council is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1.25 linear feet (3 file boxes)

Minutes, committee records, correspondence, and mimeographed and printed material include information on the 1930 White House Conference on Child Health and Protection, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and emergency education programs, the Massachusetts Department of Education, and Council-sponsored events concerning children.


The members of the Boston Parents' Council, a small group of professional and volunteer social agency administrators, created the Council in order to bridge the gap between scientists of child development and parents who were asking for information about normal child growth. They devoted so much of their energies to their goals and so relatively little to the institutionalization of their organization that the lifetime of the Boston Parents' Council itself was short, 1930 to 1938. The Council was never legally incorporated. These papers are, therefore, likely to be the only records of the Boston Parents' Council.

The first meeting leading directly to the formation of the Boston Parents' Council was held in May 1930; in October 1931 the title was adopted; and in 1935 the constitution and by-laws were written. By 1935 the vitality of the Council was declining. The final record of the Council is dated June 1938, when the nominating committee reported their inability to secure a slate of officers for the following year.

Boston Parents' Council's growth and decline coincided with the momentum of a nationwide parent education movement. The National Council for Parent Education began in 1925, was incorporated in 1929, and disbanded in 1938. It provided local organizations, including Boston Parents' Council, with professional advice and leadership, as well as financial support from the Spelman Fund. The 1930 White House Conference on Child Health and Protection gave respectability, denied by tradition, to the concept of teaching parents how to raise their own children. During the Depression of the 1930s the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the (federal) Emergency Education Programs provided support and leadership, the Emergency Education Program offering funds for parent education services to the Massachusetts Department of Education. These and other external events and social forces are referred to in the Boston Parents' Council papers.

A primary purpose of the Boston Parents' Council was to provide communication and cooperation among the many agencies in the Boston area which were doing parent education in one way or another. A second continuing goal was to study issues and events related to parent education and to inject the resulting data and judgements into the program planning of appropriate social agencies.

The Boston Parents' Council sponsored several events in the early years which gained them some public recognition: The Parents' Institute in April 1932, a conference for social workers in April 1933 in cooperation with the Child Welfare League, and in May 1934 the Symposium on Problems of Youth as a Challenge to the Home, Church, School, and Community. They repeatedly warned themselves against competing with established agencies, however, and their various statements of goals never included promoting a public identity for the Boston Parents' Council or otherwise attending to their own institutional establishment.

Boston Parents' Council participated in establishing several parent education programs which lasted beyond the Council's demise in 1938: for example, the Department of Parent Education of the New England Hospital for Women and Children, the Adult Education Council of Boston, the Greater Boston Marriage Council, Boston University's courses in family life and child rearing, and the hiring by the State Department of Education of a Consultant in Child Management.

The following individuals and organizations were present or represented at the initial meeting in May 1930 and continued to be associated with Boston Parents' Council. Officers of the Council are indicated by *.

  1. ºDr. E. Stanley Abbot, Massachusetts Society for Mental Hygiene (Chairman of the Committee on the Proposed Parents' Council, 1930-1931)
  2. T. Grafton Abbott, YMCA
  3. * Josephine D. (Mrs. T. Grafton) Abbott, Judge Baker Foundation, Florence Crittenton League (Boston Parents' Council Secretary, 1930-1932)
  4. * Dr. Augusta Bronner, Judge Baker Foundation (Boston Parents' Council Vice Chairman 1936-1937)
  5. Marie L. Donahoe, Community Health Association
  6. Dr. Henry B. Elkind, Massachusetts Society for Mental Hygiene
  7. Sybil Foster, Massachusetts Society for Mental Hygiene
  8. * Mrs. Douglas Mercer, YWCA (Boston Parents' Council Vice Chairman, 1937-1938)
  9. Mrs. H. A. Skilton, Better Homes in America
  10. * Dr. Douglas A. Thom, Habit Clinics for Child Guidance, Massachusetts Department of Mental Diseases (Boston Parents' Council Vice Chairman, 1934-1936)
  11. * Alfred Whitman, Boston Children's Aid Association (Boston Parents' Council Treasurer, 1933-1938)

Other names prominent in the Boston Parents' Council papers include:

  1. º Clifford K. Brown, YMCA (Boston Parents' Council Chairman, 1931-1934)
  2. Dr. W. Linwood Chase, Boston University School of Education
  3. ºAbigail A. Eliot, Nursery Training School (Boston Parents' Council Chairman, 1934-1936)
  4. Mrs. Robert F. Herrick, Judge Baker Foundation
  5. º Mrs. George (Ann C.) Hoague (Boston Parents' Council Chairman, 1936-1938)
  6. ºMrs. Gladys B. Jones, Garland School of Homemaking (Boston Parents' Council Secretary, 1934-1938)
  7. Ralph P. Bridgemen, Director National Council on Parent Education
  8. Eduard C. Lindeman, New York School of Social Work

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 73-5

The papers of the Boston Parents' Council were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in May 1973 by Mercy Fogg, Archivist of Garland Junior College.


The following materials from the collection have been placed in the Organization File:

  1. Garland School: Graduating Exercises of the Kindergarten Normal Class of 52 Chestnut Street, 1881.
  2. Garland School: Souvenir of the Fourth Reunion of the Chestnut Street Alumnae, May 20, 1892.
  3. Garland School: The Eastern Kindergarten Association report of the 43rd meeting, 1896.
  4. Garland School: The Eastern Kindergarten Association 52nd meeting, 1898.
  5. Garland School: Garland Kindergarten Alumnae Association, Annual Reports 1922, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931 (43rd annual meeting).
  6. Household Nursing Association, Review of the Year 1937.
  7. New England Watch and Ward Society, 1937-1938, Sixtieth Annual Report.

The following item from the collection has been given to the Boston Public Library:

  1. The Old South Association in Boston: List of Officers, Members, Committees, Documents, 1929.


  1. Box 1: Folders 1-19
  2. Box 2: Folders 20-34
  3. Box 3: Folders 35-49

Processing Information

Processed: March 1976

By: Jean Weaver

Boston Parents' Council. Records of the Boston Parents' Council, 1930-1938: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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