NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Bess Adams (1893-1985)
Bess Adams was the director of the Bureau of Field Services of the Alabama Department of Social Welfare from its organization in 1935 until the time of her retirement in 1966. Through close association with staff, boards and lay citizens in all 67 counties, she was known and loved widely throughout the state. She represented a continuing liaison between the state department and the county offices. It was said that her wisdom, her depth of understanding of human nature and foibles, her tolerance and her genuine love of people were instrumental in building effective state and county relationships.
Before entering the field of social work in 1930 as assistant child welfare superintendent in Etowah County, she taught school and was associated with the juvenile court. Adams was the county's first director of relief and later the county's first director of public welfare.
Adams was active in the American Public Welfare Association and received several special awards for her effective membership work. She was President of the Alabama Conference of Social Welfare and became historian of that group.
"Miss Bess" was a native Alabaman, went to Huntington College and then received her social work training at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She taught social work at the University of Alabama.
Her overall goal was service to people and her administrative practice empowered staff to continue to build a sound program of servicing Alabama.