Skip to content Skip to navigation
Skip to global navigation Menu

April 13, 1913

“Our Julia Lathrop was here tonight and talked about her ‘job.’ Have I a birth certificate? I bet I haven’t…. We get preached to all the time what we can do in our city gov’t, especially along sanitary lines.”

MS letter

Appointed chief of the newly formed U. S. Children’s Bureau by President William Howard Taft in 1912, Lathrop ’80 was the first woman to be head of a United State federal department. Having developed her own multidisciplinary program at Vassar in statistics, institutional history, sociology and community organization, she briefly studied law before joining her friend Jane Addams and other social reformers at Hull House in Chicago. Among her many reforms, Lathrop had pressed for a counterpart of the death certificate to register and certify births in the United States.

The Years