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Betty P. Broadhurst (1919 - 2007)

Betty P. Broadhurst grew up in Denver, Colorado as a member of a pioneering family, and was a pioneer in social work practice and education for over fifty years. Immediately after she received an MS in Psychiatric Social Work from Smith College, in 1942, she took a position as a caseworker in one of the first child guidance clinics in the country. Then, from 1943-46, she was an officer in the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard and functioned as a Welfare Officer and Infirmary Officer of the Barracks in Washington, DC. She later wrote about her Coast Guard assignments in Adventures in Mental Health; Psychiatric Social Work in World War II – the unique collection of writings about different WWII social work experiences published by Columbia University Press.

Following WWII, Betty Broadhurst had several positions in clinical social work with the Veterans Administration, Yale Medical Center, and Jewish Family and Children’s Service in Denver. Her interest in international social work was given impetus by a Fulbright Fellowship received in 1953 which allowed her to study at the Universities of Vienna and Innsbruck, Austria and to be an instructor and field work consultant at the University of Vienna School of Social Work, 1953-1955.

Dr. Broadhurst taught at the University of Denver, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Colorado State University with concentration on Human Behavior and the Environment, International social work, and field placement consultation. She received her DSW from Columbia University in 1964. She wrote several articles on historical research in social work. Other writings have discussed clinical issues and international social work. She was Professor Emerita in the Social Work Department at Colorado State University.

Throughout her teaching career, Betty Broadhurst maintained and developed international social work contacts and learning experiences for herself, her students and exchange scholars. She was the "host family" for many individuals and groups. This was probably her most unique pioneer work. Beginning in the 50’s, she worked with the Experiment in International Living leading groups to Europe and organizing the Experiment in Denver. In her years at Colorado State University, beginning in 1972, she conducted study tours to Cuba, Mexico and other Central and South American countries, and was a guest lecturer in many other departments of the University on subjects related to women, mass communication, social change, health and social work in Central America and Cuba. She traveled extensively in Central and South America, as well as Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Even with travel and a heavy teaching schedule, she found time to serve on many committees and taskforces within the universities where she was teaching, and in the community where she was living. She was a member of the Board of the American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers, 1951-53, and was a charter member of NASW.

Social Work Pioneer - 1997