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Vocational Adjustment Bureau

A Way Out for Misfits, Emily T. Burr, 1928, reprint, folder 19, Vocational Adjustment Bureau, Records, 1919-1953 (inclusive), MC389, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
"A Way Out for Misfits," Emily T. Burr, 1928, reprint, folder 19, Vocational Adjustment Bureau, Records, 1919-1953 (inclusive), MC389, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute.

The Vocational Adjustment Bureau (VAB) (or Vocational Adjustment Bureau for Girls) began in 1919 as the Committee on Vocational Guidance and Employment, a part of Jewish Big Sisters. By 1922, the demand for guidance and placement services had grown so much that the committee was reorganized into VAB, a city-wide, non-sectarian organization under the direction of Blanche Ittleson (1875–1975).

Among its purposes were: "to conduct investigations into vocational opportunities for sub-normal and maladjusted girls; [and] to conduct a placement bureau for them." VAB provided training workshops, employment in its own workshops, placement services, and psychological and vocational tests.

By the late 1920s VAB had a full-time psychologist as director, and merchandise produced in the workshops was being sold in department stores. In 1936 it proposed an experiment "to educate teachers in mental hygiene practices." By 1941 the workshops had closed, and by the fall of 1942 VAB no longer worked with female clients but concentrated on vocational rehabilitation for men "rejected by and discharged from the armed forces because of mental and nervous disabilities." This project continued under the supervision of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene (NCMH); the rehabilitation of veterans was transferred to other agencies by the fall of 1944. Joint minutes of VAB and NCMH continue through 1949, and the last meeting of the VAB was probably held in January 1951.

Digitized Archives

Institutional Records

MC 389. Vocational Adjustment Bureau, Records, 1919–1953 (inclusive). Folders 15 & 19, 1925–1931 (inclusive).

Full Collection Citation

Vocational Adjustment Bureau records, 1919–1953; Folders 15 & 19, 1925–1931. MC 389, folders 15 & 19. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Electronic Finding Aid

Vocational Adjustment Bureau. Records, 1919–1953: A Finding Aid. Radcliffe College.

The manuscript and archival materials selected for Women Working can be used for research, for the creation of class projects, or to illustrate secondary works. In some cases the items are drawn from larger collections at Harvard. Most of the digitized selections from collections contain a range of materials providing a broader context for understanding the subject.