NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Margaret Wood Hagan (1896-1966)
Margaret Hagan's name is synonymous with the development of social work in military hospitals under the auspices of the American Red Cross. She was born in Christiansburg, Virginia, received her bachelor's degree in 1919 from Salem College, and did postgraduate work at the New York School of Social Work from 1921 to 1922. She was a Commonwealth Fund Fellow from 1922 to 1923. Hagan was field director for the American Red Cross at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC from 1926 to 1943. In her years at St. Elizabeth's, she became known for her training of social workers, psychiatrists, and other mental health personnel, and for her articulation of the social aspects of mental illness. From 1944 to 1946 she was the national deputy director of the public information office of the American Red Cross.
She also was a pioneer in the use psychodrama as a training technique. From 1947 to 1955, she was the national director of service in military hospitals for the American Red Cross and served as special adviser on services to the armed forces and veterans. She was a consultant to the group for advancement of psychiatry to the surgeon general of the U.S. Army and to the surgeon general of the U.S. Navy. She also was on the Mental Health Advisory Commission of the Council of State Governments. She participated in a number of professional organizations and was the president of the American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers in 1947. After her retirement from full-time work in the late 1950's she lived in her country home, Ashagan, in Virginia until her death.