The Abbott Sisters
Living Legacy Project.
"Justice for all children is the high ideal in a democracy." - GRACE ABBOTT, c. 1930
THE ABBOTT SISTERS PROJECT honors and perpetuates the living legacy of Nebraska born-and-raised social justice pioneers, Grace and Edith Abbott, and educates Americans concerning the history--and contemporary needs--of the children’s and immigration rights movements in the U.S.
The Project has worked closely with the Office of the Governor of the State of Nebraska to create the annual “Abbott Sisters Day,” and with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation to create the annual “Grace Abbott Children’s Awards.” It has also partnered in work to name the Grace Abbott School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), to establish the Abbott-Independent Scholarship Fund at UNO, to restore the Grace Abbott Children’s Park of Grand Island, Nebraska, to create and install bronze busts of the sisters in the Edith Abbott Memorial Library of Grand Island, and to establish the Abbott Sisters Research Center, also at the Edith Abbott Library.
The Project has produced popular Abbott presentations and programs for the New York Public Library, the Chicago Humanities Festival, New York University School of Social Work, the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, Columbia University School of Social Work, the University of Nebraska, New School University, the National Association of Social Workers, the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, the Hastings Museum, and many other institutions and organizations across the U.S.
The Abbott Sisters Project has been the subject of numerous major television, radio, internet, newspaper and magazine articles, including featured pieces on NETV (Nebraska PBS) and in the official publication of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information see our Media page.
Book publications include The Grace Abbott Reader (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and Grace Abbott: An Introduction (University of Nebraska-Omaha, 2010). Media works include The Children's Champion (Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ, 2002), My Sister and Comrade (Nebraska Public Radio, 1995) and Grace Abbott: An Introduction (video version, 1998). The Project's newest endeavor is The Quilted Conscience, a film of its ongoing "culture-blend" story-quilt workshops with immigrant children across America.
The Quilted Conscience
In the very heart of Middle America, in a town that looks like the setting for a Frank Capra film, The Quilted Conscience shows the story of a group of sixteen Sudanese-American girls–refugees from the genocide in their homeland–who are thrust into a disorienting new world; of a quilters’ guild of local white women, most of whom have had little previous contact with ethnic or racial minorities; and of a famed African-American quilt-maker (Peggie Hartwell) who travels a thousand miles to bring the two groups together by means of a “culture-blend” fabric-art project: the creation of a wall-size mural, composed of dozens of Dreams & Memories story-panels created by the Sudanese children with the help of the local women.
This film celebrates the inspiring message of hometown hero, social justice pioneer Grace Abbott, who was born and raised in the Sudanese students’ new community of Grand Island, Nebraska. Grace Abbott was an extraordinary leader in the struggles for America’s children and immigrants who, as Director of the Immigrants’ Protective League (1908-1921) and Chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau (1921-1934), is credited with saving thousands of children’s and immigrants’ lives and improving the lives of millions more. Her famous quote, “Justice for all children is the high ideal in a democracy” is the credo for our film, which is already serving as the catalyst for similar immigrant-student story-quilt workshop programs across the United States.
"The Quilted Conscience" premiered Friday, June 14, at 7:00 p.m. CT on NET1 and NET-HD in celebration of World Refugee Day. It was extraordinarily well received. NET has aired the show a dozen times over the course of three months.TQC featured in Omaha World Herald
TQC was the subject of a wonderful column by Erin Grace in the Omaha World Herald on World Refugee Day (June 20).TQC accepted for national broadcast distribution
We are honored to have TQC accepted by National Educational Television Association for distribution to Public TV stations across the U.S. As reported by our colleague Terry Dugas (Manager of Content Distribution, NET): "Through the end of October, TQC has aired 114 times in 37 markets in 17 states. These include: Los Angeles Washington Denver Portland Raleigh-Durham Indianapolis Salt Lake City Milwaukee Cincinnati Grand Rapids and Louisville ... all in the top 50 television markets in the U.S."New TQC Workshop
The newest TQC Workshop is being shared with a marvelous group of Karen-American students (from the Myanmar/Thailand area) who are now attending the Lincoln Public Schools. In mid-September, the beautiful Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, Nebraska, hosted this workshop - with the vital collaborations of project partners Quilt Artist Peggie Hartwell and LPS and quilt coordinators Susan Hertzler, Ruth Kupfer and Lisa Tolliver. The students' fabric artwork is excellent and we are looking forward with joy to an exhibition of their completed "Dreams & Memories" mural quilt at the Sheldon sometime in early 2014.TQC screening in Washington, D.C.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS, Washington, D.C.) chose "The Quilted Conscience" to be shown at its special World Refugee Day event on June 20.TQC screening in Omaha
"The Quilted Conscience" screened June 20 at the Aksarben Cinema, in Omaha. The event including a networking reception featuring culturally related foods, exhibits about the Omaha Refugee Task Force, photographs, and displays of TQC quilts.TQC screening in Lincoln, NE
"The Quilted Conscience" screened June 16 at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus as part of the "Coffee and Conversation in the Community" film series.Presentation to staffs of U.S. Senators
Project partners Ann Coyne, Ph.D., (Grace Abbott School of Social Work, UNO) and Christa Yoakum (Nebraska Appleseed) were invited by Nancy Johner (State Director for U.S. Senator Mike Johanns) to give a well-received special presentation to the statewide staffs of U.S. Senators from Nebraska, Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer."The Quilted Conscience" screening in Lincoln
"The Quilted Conscience" screens Sunday, June 16, at 1:00 p.m., at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center at 13th and Q Streets on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus as part of the "Coffee and Conversation in the Community" film series."The Quilted Conscience" on Public Television
"The Quilted Conscience" premieres Friday, June 14, at 7:00 p.m. CT on NET1 and NET-HD. The program documents the girls' journey as new Americans as they participate in an arts project with a local quilters guild, guided by nationally known African American quilt-maker, Peggie Hartwell. Hartwell is a founding member of the Women of Color Quilters Network.