“We cannot meet new questions nor build for the future if we confine ourselves to the outmoded dogmas of the past.”

The Taft family’s legacy of public service, philanthropy, support of community, education, and humanitarian causes stretches back to the mid-1800s when Alphonso Taft, the patriarch of the Cincinnati branch of the Taft family, moved to Cincinnati to practice law.

Alphonso’s roots were in New England, where generations of Tafts had farmed the land and served in local government. From a relatively early age, Alphonso realized that his future lay not in farming, but in the law. He viewed the practice law as a way to give back to his community, and quickly established himself in Cincinnati as a strong advocate of causes for the betterment of his community and its residents.

Alphonso and his family advocated for public education in Cincinnati, including for the University of Cincinnati. They helped to establish the Mercantile Library and the Cincinnati Literary Society. They founded the Anna Louise Inn in 1909 as a home for young working women. They also opened the House of Refuge for children as an alternative to imprisonment with adult populations – Alphonso envisioned a home where “children charged with petty offenses could be sent with the idea of ‘reclaiming and making good citizens of them”.

Alphonso Taft firmly believed that one had an obligation, commensurate with his unique resources and abilities, to giving something back to the community. He modeled this belief to his children, each of whom assumed that commitment to service — whether through service in public office, through philanthropic efforts, or by filling a need within the community.

This legacy has been passed down through generations of Alphonso’s descendants and continues today through the Friends of the Taft Legacy. The Friends strive to further that community commitment by partnering with other groups to focus on the Taft family values of education, community engagement, and service.