MIRIAM VAN WATERS, 1887-1974

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Miriam Van Waters, penologist, was born October 4, 1887, in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, the eldest living child (an older daughter died before Miriam was born) of George Browne (1865-1934) and Maude Vosburg (1866-1948) Van Waters. She had two sisters and two brothers: Ruth Van Waters Burton (1893-1967); Rebecca Van Waters Bartholomew (1898-1974?); George, Jr. (1899-19??); and Ralph (1906-). MVW graduated in 1904 from St. Helen's Hall in Portland, Oregon, and then attended the University of Oregon, where she earned a B.A. in Philosophy, 1908, and an M.A. in Psychology, 1910. She received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1913.

From 1913 to 1932, MVW devoted her career to various aspects of juvenile care. She served as a special agent for the Boston Children's Aid Society, 1913; the superintendent of the Frazer Detention Home in Portland, Oregon, 1914-1915; the superintendent of Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles County, California, 1917-1920; director of the El Retiro School for Girls in Los Angeles, 1919-1920; and referee of the Juvenile Court in Los Angeles, 1920-1930. MVW was director of the juvenile delinquency section of the Harvard Law School Crime Survey, which began in 1926, and a consultant on juvenile delinquency for the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement ("Wickersham Commission"), from 1928 probably until 1931. Throughout this period MVW also served on other government and university committees and commissions, participated in various professional organizations, delivered speeches and lectures, and wrote two books: Youth in Conflict (1925) and Parents on Probation (1927).

In 1932 MVW succeeded Jessie Hodder as the superintendent of the Reformatory for Women at Framingham, Massachusetts. Her progressive penal policies included: emphasizing psychological treatment, allowing mothers to keep their children with them at RW, and broadly interpreting the Massachusetts indenture system to allow for more day work. During her tenure there, several state officials along with local newspapers, launched critical attacks on Van Waters and her policies. After hearings in 1948, Van Waters was dismissed as Superintendent in January 1949. She was then reinstated by a governor's commission in March 1949, following further hearings and much publicity. She served as superintendent until her retirement in 1957. As in previous years, MVW was involved in other activities: teaching, serving on committees in professional organizations, delivering speeches, conducting research and writing.

In 1929 MVW assumed guardianship of a seven-year-old girl and renamed the child Sarah Ann. MVW, who never married, legally adopted Sarah in 1932. In 1941 Sarah Ann Van Waters (1922-1953) married Richard Hildebrandt. They had three sons before they were divorced in 1949: George (born 1941), Richard (born 1943), and Peter (born 1945). Sarah Hildebrandt was killed in a car accident in February 1953.

From the guide to the Papers, 1861-1971, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Van Waters, Miriam, 1887-1974. Papers, 1861-1971 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbott, Grace, 1878-1939 person
associatedWith Addams, Jane, 1860-1935 person
associatedWith Alinsky, Saul David, 1909- person
associatedWith Almy, Helen Jackson (Cabot), 1856-1938 person
associatedWith American League to Abolish Capital Punishment corporateBody
associatedWith American Prison Association corporateBody
associatedWith American Youth Commission corporateBody
associatedWith Bain, Winifred E., 1889-1965 person
associatedWith Baldwin, Amelia (Muir), 1876-1960 person
associatedWith Baldwin, Roger Nash, 1884- person
associatedWith Bates, Sanford, 1884-1972 person
associatedWith Bay State Schools, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Berry, Dorothy person
associatedWith Binford, Jessie Florence, 1876-1966 person
associatedWith Blanchard, Nellie person
associatedWith Blanding, Sarah Gibson, 1898- person
associatedWith Bode, Elizabeth later Van Waters person
associatedWith Bonner, Augusta person
associatedWith Bradford, Gov. Robert Fiske, 1902- person
associatedWith Breckinridge, Sophonisba Preston, 1866-1948 person
associatedWith Brooks, Paul, 1909- person
associatedWith Brown, Dorothy (Kirchwey) Mrs. H. Larue, 1888- person
correspondedWith Browne [family] family
associatedWith Brown, (Herman) Larue, 1883- person
associatedWith Brown, Sibyl Clement person
associatedWith Cabot, Frederick Pickering, 1868-1932 person
associatedWith Cadbury, Henry Joel, 1883-1974 person
associatedWith California Conference of Social Work corporateBody
associatedWith Cannon, Ida Maud, 1877-1960 person
associatedWith Cass, E. R. person
associatedWith Chace, Florence person
associatedWith Chute, Charles Lionel, 1882-1953 person
associatedWith Cleghorn, Sarah Norcliffe, 1876-1959 person
associatedWith Cohen, Ethel, 1887-1977 person
associatedWith Comstock, Ada Louise, 1876-1959 person
associatedWith Conte, Silvio O., 1921- person
associatedWith Cronkhite, Bernice Veasey (Brown), 1893-1983 person
associatedWith Cross, Claude B., 1893-1974 person
associatedWith Cushing, Archbishop Richard J., 1895-1970 person
associatedWith Cushman, Roy M. person
associatedWith Darrow, Clarence S., 1877-1938 person
associatedWith Davis, Saville Rogers, 1909- person
associatedWith Deutsch, Helene, 1884- person
associatedWith Dever, Gov. Paul Andrew, 1903-1958 person
associatedWith Dummer, Ethel (Sturges), 1866-1954 person
associatedWith Ehrmann, Sara (Rosenfeld), 1895- person
associatedWith Ellis, William John, 1892-1945 person
associatedWith Ellwyn, Christina person
associatedWith El Retiro School for Girls, Los Angeles corporateBody
associatedWith Evans, Elizabeth (Gardiner) Glendower, 1856-1937 person
associatedWith Falconer, Martha Platt, 1862-1941 person
associatedWith Fisher, Dorothy (Canfield), 1879-1959 person
associatedWith Fisher, Katharine (Dummer), 1892-1961 person
associatedWith Fiumara, Nicholas J. person
associatedWith Flanagan, Father Edward J., 1886-1948 person
associatedWith Flaschner, Franklin N. person
associatedWith Frankfurter, Felix, 1882-1965 person
correspondedWith Friday Club corporateBody
associatedWith Friendly Visitors and Friends of Framingham corporateBody
associatedWith Friends of Framingham (Organization) corporateBody
associatedWith Furcolo, Gov. Foster, 1911- person
associatedWith Gladding, Anne person
associatedWith Glueck, Eleanor (Touroff), 1898-1972 person
associatedWith Glueck, Sheldon, 1896- person
associatedWith Goodale, Francis G. person
associatedWith Griswold, Erwin Nathaniel, 1904- person
associatedWith Hall, Fanny Mrs. Keppele person
associatedWith Hardy, Harriet Louise, 1906- person
associatedWith Hepner, Arthur W. person
associatedWith Herrick, Elinore (Morehouse), 1895-1964 person
associatedWith Herter, Gov. Christian A., 1895-1967 person
associatedWith Hinton, Carmelita person
associatedWith Hinton, William A. person
associatedWith Hodder, Jessie (Donaldson), 1870-1931 person
associatedWith Holmes, Gertrude B. person
associatedWith Holzschuh, Alma person
associatedWith Hutchinson, Anne person
associatedWith International Association of Children's Magistrates corporateBody
associatedWith Jamieson, Anna D. person
associatedWith Jordan, Wilbur Kitchener, 1902-1980 person
associatedWith Katzenbach, Nicholas deBelleville, 1922- person
associatedWith Kellett, Rev. Howard P. person
associatedWith Kellogg, Paul Underwood, 1879-1958 person
associatedWith Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963 person
associatedWith Kirchwey, Freda, 1893-1976 person
associatedWith Kirchwey, George W., 1855-1942 person
associatedWith Kross, Anna Moscowitz person
associatedWith Lathrop, Julia Clifford, 1858-1932 person
associatedWith Lawrence, Rev. William Appleton, 1889-1968 person
associatedWith Lee, Dorothy (McCullough), 1901- person
associatedWith Lee, Mary, 1891- person
associatedWith Lenroot, Katharine Frederica, 1891- person
associatedWith Lewis, John Llewellyn, 1880-1969? person
associatedWith Lindemann, Erich, 1900-1974 person
associatedWith Liquor Commission corporateBody
associatedWith Loring, Bessie Brooks person
associatedWith Los Angeles Business Girls Club corporateBody
associatedWith Lurie, Reuben Levi, 1898- person
associatedWith MacCormick, Austin Harbutt, 1893- person
associatedWith MacDowell, Elliott E. person
associatedWith Mariner, Karoline D. person
associatedWith Massachusetts Conference of Social Work corporateBody
associatedWith Massachusetts Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty corporateBody
associatedWith Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978 person
associatedWith Mebane, Daniel, 1894-1956 person
associatedWith Meyer, Adolf, 1866-1950 person
associatedWith Miller, Dorothy W. person
associatedWith Munk, Marie, -1978 person
associatedWith National Conference of Social Work corporateBody
associatedWith National Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty corporateBody
associatedWith National Probation Association corporateBody
associatedWith Newell, Nancy person
associatedWith O'Keefe, Margaret, -1962 person
associatedWith Parsons, Herbert C. person
associatedWith Parsons, Talcott, 1902- person
associatedWith Perkins, Frances, 1880-1965 person
associatedWith Pierce, Vivian person
associatedWith Pippert, Eleanor person
associatedWith Pound, Roscoe, 1870-1964 person
associatedWith Putnam, Caroline person
associatedWith Rainey, Homer Price, 1896- person
associatedWith Rantoul, Lois person
associatedWith Reeves, Floyd Wesley, 1890- person
correspondedWith Robinson family
associatedWith Roosevelt, Anna Eleanor (Roosevelt), 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 1882-1945 person
associatedWith Rowe, Allan Winter, 1879-1934 person
associatedWith Rowles, Burton J. person
associatedWith Sachar, Abram Leon, 1899- person
associatedWith Saftel, Helen person
associatedWith Saltonstall, Leverett, 1892- person
associatedWith Sargent, Porter E., 1872-1951 person
associatedWith Sayre, Francis Bowes, 1885-1972 person
associatedWith Scudder, Vida Dutton, 1861-1954 person
associatedWith Sexton, Rev. John S. person
associatedWith Shontz, Orfa Jean person
associatedWith Shriver, Eunice (Kennedy), 1921? - person
associatedWith Smith, Betty Cole person
associatedWith Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross corporateBody
associatedWith Southern California Society for Mental Hygiene corporateBody
associatedWith Stantial, Edna Lamprey person
associatedWith Stedman, Edith Gratia, 1889? -1978 person
associatedWith Stevenson, Adlai, 1900-1965 person
associatedWith Superintendents of Correctional Institutions for Girls and Women (Organization) corporateBody
associatedWith Thompson, Geraldine L. Mrs. Lewis S. person
associatedWith United Prison Association of Massachusetts corporateBody
associatedWith Van Waters family family
associatedWith Weinberg, Ruth person
associatedWith Weske, Dorothy Bruce person
associatedWith White, William Alanson, 1870-1937 person
associatedWith Wilder, Thornton Niven, 1897-1975 person
associatedWith Wills, Grace T. person
correspondedWith Women's Auxiliary corporateBody
associatedWith Woods, Elizabeth L. person
associatedWith Wredon, Nicholas, 1901-1955 person
associatedWith Yust, Walter, 1894-1960 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Massachusetts. Reformatory for Women, Framingham
Massachusetts. State Industrial School for Girls, Lancaster
Subject
Abortion--Personal narratives
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1887

Death 1974

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