NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Grace Coyle (1892-1962)
Coyle received her bachelor's degree in 1914 from Wells Lake College, a certificate from the New York School of Philanthropy 1915, and she earned a master's degree in economics in 1928 and a doctoral degree in sociology from Columbia University in 1931. Grace Coyle is known for her development of the scientific approach to group work practice. Her work, teaching, and writing experiences were related to her interest in group work.
Her early activities included work in settlement houses and the YWCA. From 1934 to 1962 she taught at the School of Applied Social Sciences at Western Reserve University in Cleveland developing the first group work course to be taught at that university. Grace Coyle was the president of the National Conference of Social Work in 1940, the president of the American Association of Social Workers in 1942 and the Council on Social Work Education from 1958 to 60. Her many writings include Social Process in Organized Groups 1930, Studies in Group Behavior 1937, Group Experiences and Democratic Values 1947, Group Work with American Youth 1948, Social Science in the Professional Education of Social Workers 1958.
All of her writings and speeches are institutes contributed to the acceptance of group work as a social work method. Grace Coyle felt that case work and group work had a common philosophy and that both would be enriched by their integration. She felt that the uniting of the two would result in better quality services for the client. She argued that group workers need to become more aware of personality issues and family relationships, while at the same time case workers need to be more knowledgeable of group dynamics and the use of leisure activity. It was also her belief that a better acquaintance with case work by group workers would reveal the therapeutic possibilities of a group experience. A collection of her manuscripts, course outlines and correspondence is located in the archives of Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio.