NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Harriett Bartlett (1897-1987)
To understand the social work profession as a whole, was the goal of Harriett Bartlett. With singleness of purpose, she applied her considerable abilities of analysis and conceptualization to this endeavor throughout her career of practice, teaching, and consultation. Her own practice experience and writing was focused in the area of medical social work. However, her vision was one of finding the commonalities of the various specialties through research and through deeper understanding of practice. The culmination of her efforts is seen in The Common Base of Social Work Practice, published in 1970. It is a theoretical work which is utilized by social workers to the present time.
Bartlett received her BA from Vassar in 1918; a Certificate in Social Science Administration from the London School of Economics in 1920; and an MA in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 1927. She worked as a caseworker, supervisor, and consultant at the Massachusetts General Hospital between 1921 and 1940. She taught at the University of Southern California and engaged in a series of special projects and studies. In 1943, Bartlett worked as a medical social work consultant at the US Children's Bureau in Washington. She did several surveys of hospitals in the east and midwest for the American Association of Social Workers in 1945-46.
Bartlett was professor of social economy at the Simmons College School of Social Work from 1947-1957. She developed the curriculum and led the medical practice sequence. During this period, she also served on the Council of Social Work Education and chaired the inception of the Hollis-Taylor Report.
Harriett Bartlett retired to an active life of writing and to committee service to NASW and other organizations. She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston University in 1969.
During her 30 years of active retirement, Harriett Bartlett's seminal thinking, her publications, and her ongoing work with organizations continued to benefit the social work profession.