NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Eleanor Barnett (circa 1920 - 2008)
Eleanor Barnett specialized in medical social work, and also worked as a clinical social worker, teacher, consultant, and planner. As many did in the 1940s, she joined the American National Red Cross Service to Military Hospitals and was assigned to several Army and Navy Hospitals as Director of the respective Red Cross Offices. Upon her retirement from service, she returned to Denver, Colorado and volunteered as chairman of the Services to Military Families Committee of the Mile High Chapter. She was elected a member of the Services Honor Roll for outstanding service through the American Red Cross.
Dr. Florence Sabin, a Physician in Denver, was asked to revise and make recommendations about the health care delivery system. One recommendation resulted in the Department of Health and Hospitals establishing a Social Service Department and hiring a Director. Ms. Barnett, well suited for the department, served there for nearly six years, first as case work supervisor, and later as director. In this position, she also worked with social work students from the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver.
In the ensuing years, Ms. Barnett worked with the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver, with responsibility for the Medical Social Work Sequence. The directors of the school encouraged the faculty to be involved in local, state and national organizations. She planned workshops and institutes according to her respective area of expertise, went to local and state conferences, and prepared papers for meetings. It was at one of the national conferences on social welfare she was elected chair, Section on Casework, for a one-year term. She worked with the graduate school for 25 years.
Ms. Barnett was a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the Academy of Certified Social Workers, the Medical Social Work Section and served on many committees including the Accreditation Committee. She also served as the National Chair, Medical Social Work Section, National Association of Social Workers.
She participated in and/or planned a series of practice/education/public health endeavors with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; Public Health Service, Washington D.C.; Heart Disease and Stroke Control Division; and the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Social and Rehabilitation Service. The Eleanor Barnett Trust Scholarships were established in her memory at the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver.