Mental Hygiene for Children

  • Education
  • 1918

A $10 million gift from Anna Harkness, the wife of one of John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil partners and a great advocate of civic improvement and self-help, established the Commonwealth Fund in 1918. Under the leadership of her son Edward Harkness, the foundation promoted understanding of child psychology, and improved services and teaching for children. (See, for instance, nearby 1936 entry on John Bowlby.) Its Program for the Prevention of Delinquency sought to identify troubled children and offer assistance before they fell into trouble with the law. Through its integration of child psychiatry and social work into schools, and its discovery that parental education was a key component in reducing adolescent delinquency, the fund used the public education system to improve family well-being and American social life.