NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Eduard C. Lindeman (1885 - 1953)
Eduard C. Lindeman was a philosopher, teacher, scholar, and social reformer. He was born in 1885 in St.Claire, Michigan, one of ten children, of an impoverished family of German speaking Danes. His father died when he was a young boy and he spent his early years working as a farm laborer. He later prepared himself to meet the requirements of Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) where he received a bachelor's degree in 1911. He edited THE GLEANER, a Lansing, MI magazine during 1911-1912 and worked as a social worker from 1912 to 1914. In 1915 he joined the staff of Michigan Agricultural College as the extension worker of the state's 4 H clubs. Two years later he began a teaching career at the YMCA College in Chicago. From 1919 to 1921 he taught at the North Carolina College for Women. His resignation there was forced. The KKK put pressure on the college because he invited blacks to his home and he objected to faculty attempts to dictate his teaching methods. He spent the next two years as a free lance reporter.
In 1924 he became professor of social philosophy at the New York School of Social Work and remained in that position until his retirement in 1950. He was considered a community organization specialist but his first courses reflected his interest in social ethics. He also taught courses in unions and labor economy. He was a social activist who undertook pioneering work in adult education, community organization, group work, and labor management problems. His Democratic Christian Socialist social philosophy was enough to bring him to the attention of the McCarthy committee. He was joined by other social workers such as Marian Hathaway, Bertha Reynolds and Charlotte Towle. While a few stood up, social work's response to this social injustice was not notable. Dr. Gisela Konopka (NASW Pioneer) who did her doctoral thesis at the Columbia University School of Social Work on a study of his philosophy wrote that on the last day of his life he said, "This is a beautiful country. Don't let McCarthy spoil it." Lindeman did some work other than at the NYSSW. For example, from 1935-1938 he was director of Community Organization for Leisure in the WP A and in 1946 he was educational advisor to the Britist Army in Germany. He was also extremely active in community and professional organizations, including the American Association for Adult Education, the National Urban League, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, the National Child Labor Committee, and the National Conference on Social Welfare, of which he was president, to name a few. At one time in his career he was a lecturer at the Delhi School of Social Work and when Dr. Ruby Pernell (NASW Pioneer) was the social welfare attaché there she found sixteen notebooks of Lindeman's in the School's library which she gave to the University of Minnesota Social Welfare History Archives. He had become ill while there and had to leave quickly.
Lindeman maintained a strenuous workload of consulting, presenting, writing, and teaching prior to his death in 1953. He was the author of several works in the fields of philosophy and social work. Lindeman's papers were donated to the University of Minnesota Spcial Work Arvhives. Several of his books have been summarized in a paper that Professor Harris Chalklin (NASW Pioneer) wrote for The Maryland Social Worker, NASW Chapter, MarchpApril, 2007.