Stories from Our Past, Black History Month – Thyra J. Edwards

It’s no secret for generations, children have suffered from abuse and neglect. Fortunately, each era trailblazers have stepped up to move social services and child welfare forward.

One pioneer in child welfare advocacy is Thyra Edwards. A Texas native and University of Chicago graduate, Edwards had a heart to work with children from across the globe.

She began her career as a school teacher in Houston, Texas, until she moved to Chicago and made globetrotting part of her lifestyle.

Eventually, her endeavors led her to the International People’s College in Elsinore, Denmark. There she concentrated her studies on child welfare legislation and industrial relations.

While in Europe, she also took a special interest in children whose lives were disrupted by the Holocaust. She started the first program in Rome, Italy to help Jewish kids impacted by the WWII genocide.

In the states, she became a women’s rights advocate, civil rights activist, and international correspondent.

After dedicating her life’s work to disadvantaged and at-risk populations, she died at the age of 55 in 1953 – 11 years prior to the abolishment of legal segregation in the United States.