Mabel Bourne Bassett

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Mabel Bourne Bassett

Mabel Bourne Bassett

“As long as there’s a breath left in me, I’m going to fight for the people who put me here.”
Mabel Bassett


Mabel Bourne Bassett was born in Chicago, Illinois, and received her formal education at the Missouri School of Social Economy (now the School of Social Work at the University of Missouri) in St. Louis, Missouri. She was married at 16 and moved with her husband to Sapulpa, Indian Territory, in 1902. There she directed the Creek County Humane Society which began in 1910 and became the first home for children established in the new state of Oklahoma.

Mrs. Bassett became the State Commissioner of Charities and Corrections for Oklahoma in 1923 and played a vital role in ensuring the passage of such legislation as making wife and child desertion a felony. She was the first to promote the establishment of a State Pardon and Parole Board, an Industrial School for African-American boys at Boley, Oklahoma, and a building for women prisoners at the State Penitentiary. She frequently spoke out on controversial issues and gave an estimated 3,200 hours of voluntary service to the Red Cross.

Fun fact

Mabel Bassett first found fame at the age of ten when she was billed as a child elocutionist and began giving stirring readings from platforms in the Chautauqua circuit. Family members originally hoped for a stage career for their child prodigy.

Oklahoma connections

Bassett moved with her husband, Joseph, to Sapulpa, Indian Territory, in 1902.




Public Servant





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