NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Margaret Daniel (1908 - 1997)
Margaret Daniel's career is synonymous with the beginnings of public welfare in the 1930s and the establishment of professional social work as a career service within the Veteran's Administration following World War II. Daniel selected social work as her major as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota where she received her bachelor of science degree in 1931. Until 1941, she participated in the early years of child welfare and public welfare in New York, New Mexico, and Missouri. Following completion of the graduate program at the New York School (Columbia University), and award of the master of social work degree in 1942, she served oversees as a supervisor of the social services in the Armed Service Hospitals in India, China, and Burma.
At the end of World War II, her background and demonstrated leadership as a professional social worker made her a natural for pioneer work with the Veteran's Administration, which was undergoing extensive reformation with new and exciting opportunities for professional service. Beginning in 1946 as a Social Work Consultant in the St. Louis Branch Office she served first a four state and later an eight state area. Later, Daniel moved to the Central Office as Education Chief within the Social Work Service. During this period, the VA was regarded as a standard bearer for professional social work and Daniel was a leader in establishing educational and experience guidelines for the professional staff. Working with schools of social work, she helped to make VA field work assignments a bastion of excellent supervision and good practice.
In 1964, Daniel moved from the VA to the Training Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) where she remained until her retirement in 1973. This was a period when NIMH was the source of significant support for students and faculty in graduate schools of social work, not only for training for mental health, but for all professional social work through the inclusion of mental health content in the generic curriculum.
Margaret Daniel left her mark on both social work education and practice through her pioneer work at the VA and her continued contribution at NIMH to high standards in social work education. Throughout her career she served on countless social work boards and committees and was particularly active in the Council on Social Work Education and the National Association of Social Workers.