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.
We've completed work on the final cut of TQC with our colleagues at NET (Nebraska's Public Television station), and the station is planning a broadcast premiere in June 2013 in celebration of World Refugee Day. As well, we are now discussing with NET an extensive outreach effort, which will allow us to share our project with Nebraskans of many diverse communities. Soon we will begin work to distribute TQC to Public Television stations across the U.S.TQC at San Diego Black Film Festival
On 2 February, 2012, TQC was screened at the prestigious San Diego Black Film Festival. We had a wonderful time at this event. The audience members were very connected with the film from literally the first scene--laughing at the good, sweet moments throughout and responding with all the joy and encouragements that we could hope for. At the end, when the credits came on--showing that the film had been sponsored in part by the Nebraska Humanities Council--a woman in the back of the auditorium said firmly and happily, "Way to go, Nebraska!" sounding deeply impressed and very pleased. Afterwards, we received much applause and many compliments. A man with a small baby said how happy he was with our work, adding, "If you hadn't made this film and shown this story, nobody would ever guess that there were such wonderful people and unexpected things happening out there!" Click the link to see the new TQC trailer, as shown by the festival.TQC screenings/community discussions
In November 2012 and February 2013, TQC received special preview screenings at The Grand Theater, Grand Island, Nebraska (two events); the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (two events); the University of Nebraska at Omaha; Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska; Bryan Community School, Lincoln, Nebraska; Lincoln High School, Lincoln, Nebraska (two events). See our media page for information on the press coverage of these events.ASP/TQC events
In November, 2012, the Project offered a series of major presentations/exhibitions to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our partner, The Grace Abbott School of Social Work (University of Nebraska at Omaha), including a talk in the lovely upper rotunda of the Nebraska Capitol, and a two-week display in the Capitol's lower rotunda. See our media page for information on the press coverage of these events.The Abbott Sisters also made history
The World Herald featured a story entitled "The Abbott Sisters Also Made History" on 11 April, 2012.Grace Abbott Award 2012
The Buffett Early Childhood Fund was the 2012 honoree of the Grace Abbott Award, presented by the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation at a ceremony held at the Rose Theater in Omaha.Nebraska Capitol Building hosts Abbott Events
The Nebraska Capitol Building is hosting two Abbott events. Abbott Displays, lower rotunda, February, November 16 through Monday, December 3, 2012. Abbott Programs and reception, upper rotunda, Monday, November 26, 2012, 10:00 a.m.The Quilted Conscience - screenings in Grand Island (November 2012)
Watch for more details.State Fair Victory
The 2012 quilt received a Second-Place Red Ribbon at the 2012 Nebraska State Fair. It also received a special honor: a financial gift that will be used to purchase supplies for future Newcomers quilts.Article in NASW News
The NASW published an Abbott-related article in the March 2012 issue of NASW News.