Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Emma Octavia Lundberg Papers, 1834-1971

Summary Information


This collection contains research files, speeches, writings and other material related to Emma O. Lundberg, a child welfare leader who served the Wisconsin Industrial Commission, the United States Children's Bureau, the Child Welfare League of America, and the New York Temporary Emergency Relief Administration. Throughout her nearly forty-year career in social work, Lundberg wrote extensively about child welfare; most of the papers relate to her writings and research.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0809
Bib ID 4079053 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Lundberg, Emma O (Emma Octavia)
Title Emma Octavia Lundberg Papers, 1834-1971
Physical Description 4 linear feet (9 document boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in three series.



Emma O. Lundberg is best known for her research and numerous writings about child welfare. The largest part of this collection dates from her service at the U.S. Children's Bureau (1914-1925, 1935-1945), and at the Child Welfare League of America and the New York Temporary Emergency Relief Administration from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s. A few materials from her pre-Washington years in Wisconsin are also present. Throughout the course of her career, Lundberg directed a number of studies about child welfare, and wrote not only about her findings but also about research methods useful for the field. Most of the Papers comprise drafts and reprints of Lundberg's writings, and her research files. Some of the drafts are heavily annotated. Very little purely personal material is found in this collection.

Along with Lundberg's own writings and printed materials, this collection contains a small amount of printed material by other individuals and child welfare organizations, which Lundberg filed for her own reference: reprints, journals, pamphlets, and clippings. Some are accompanied by correspondence and Lundberg's comments. Also present is a small amount of correspondence with her publishers and friends.

The Papers also include correspondence that Katherine Lenroot, a former colleague and a close friend of Lundberg's, exchanged with Lundberg's publishers and relatives after her death.

  • Series I: Writings and Speeches, 1914-1962

    The writings contained within the collection are both those of Lundberg and those by other individuals and organizations.

  • Series II: Subject Files, 1834-1946

    This series consists of subject files labeled by Lundberg. The subject matters relate to various aspects of child welfare, and the series includes printed materials, clippings, and handwritten research notes. Many of the subject files concern various types of child welfare institutions and legislation, and the coordinated efforts of local, state, and federal institutions to assist children. A significant amount of material is regarding early child care institutions from nineteenth century.

    Also present in this series are materials related to several White House Conferences that Lundberg attended. In the 1940 conference, Lundberg served as the Assistant Secretary. Included are articles, clippings, correspondence, pamphlets, proceedings, and speeches associated with the conferences. The material is arranged alphabetically by the original titles of the folders.

  • Series III: Personal, 1938-1971

    This series holds a small amount of correspondence and personal materials. A few letters with Lundberg's friends and publishers are present. Other personal materials include notebooks of her favorite poems and quotations.

    This series also contains Lundberg's will, in which she designated Lenroot as the executor of her estate, and other material related to her death. Correspondence that Lenroot exchanged with Lundberg's publishers and relatives can be found in this series. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject. Correspondence has been arranged alphabetically by author.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Emma Octavia Lundberg papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material at Columbia

Katherine F. Lenroot Papers, 1909-1974 Columbia University, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Child Welfare League of America Records University of Minnesota Libraries. Social Welfare History Archives.

Records of the United States Children's Bureau, 1908-1969 (Record Group 102) National Archives and Records Administration.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 08/--/89.

Papers processed Yuki Oda (GSAS 2013) 10/2009.

Papers cataloged Lea Osborne 04/12/2010.

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2010-04-13 xml document instance created by Lea Osborne.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Child Welfare League of America Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Child welfare Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Children -- Legal status, laws, etc Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Foster home care Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Illegitimate children Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Juvenile courts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lenroot, Katharine F (Katharine Fredrica), 1891-1982 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lundberg, Emma O (Emma Octavia) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mothers' pensions Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
People with mental disabilities Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Social security Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States -- Social conditions Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States. Children's Bureau Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
White House Conference on Children in a Democracy (Location of meeting: Washington, D.C.). Date of meeting or treaty signing: (1939-1940 :.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Women social workers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Emma Octavia Lundberg, child welfare leader, was born in Västergötland, Sweden on October 8, 1881, to Frans Vilhelm Lundberg and Anna Kajsa Johanson. The family emigrated from Sweden in 1884, and Lundberg spent her childhood in Rockford, Illinois, graduating from Rockford High School in 1901. Two years later Lundberg entered the University of Wisconsin at Madison, earning her B.A. in 1907 and a master's degree in 1908.

From 1908 to 1913, Lundberg worked in several cities studying living-standards and immigrant households, and engaged in family welfare work. Among the organizations that Lundberg worked for were the United States Immigration Commission, the United Charities of Chicago, the Associated Charities in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Associated Charities in Milwaukee. In 1913, she became a deputy at the Wisconsin Industrial Commission and conducted surveys for the state's new minimum wage legislation.

In November 1914, Lundberg moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as the first Director of the Social Services Division of the United States Children's Bureau, a young agency established two years earlier. Shortly thereafter Katherine F. Lenroot, Lundberg's assistant at the Wisconsin Industrial Commission, also joined the Bureau and became the Assistant Director of the division. Lundberg directed studies on illegitimacy, juvenile delinquency, the care of children described then as mentally deficient and state child welfare laws. She wrote numerous articles and reports, and many of her studies were published as Children's Bureau publications. Her publications from this period include Illegitimacy as a Child Welfare Problem (1920, 1922), Juvenile Courts at Work (1925), both co-authored with Lenroot, along with Children Deprived of Parental Care (1926), and Public Aid to Mothers with Dependent Children (1926).

In 1925, Lundberg resigned from the Children's Bureau to join the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), a coalition of child welfare organizations that was established in New York in 1920. Lundberg first served as the Director of the Department of Institutional Care, and later as the Director of Studies and Surveys. Besides her book Child Dependency in the United States (1933), she frequently authored articles in the CWLA's publications. In the early years of the Great Depression, based on her two decades of experience in social work, Lundberg was appointed the Director of Research and Statistics at the New York Temporary Emergency Relief Administration under Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She also worked as a consultant for other public agencies and conducted research for Philadelphia and Florida.

Lundberg rejoined the Children's Bureau in 1935 at the request of Katherine Lenroot who had been promoted to the third Chief of the Bureau in December 1934. From 1935 to 1942 Lundberg served as the Assistant Director of the Child Welfare Division, and from 1942 to 1945 as consultant in social services for children. The responsibilities of the Children's Bureau expanded significantly during the New Deal, and Lundberg's contributions included laying the foundation of children welfare provisions under the Social Security Act of 1937. She was also the Assistant Secretary to the 1940 White House Conference on Children in a Democracy.

In 1945, Lundberg retired from Washington due to ill health. She continued to write nevertheless, and published Unto the Least of These: Social Services for Children in 1947. After Lenroot's retirement in 1951 and until Lundberg's death in 1954, Lundberg and Lenroot shared a home in Hartsdale, New York.

Emma O. Lundberg died on November 17, 1954; she was 73 years old.