NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Inabel Burns Lindsay (1900-1983)
Inabel Burns Lindsay was the first Dean of the Howard University School of Social Work. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, she prepared for a teaching career. After receiving her undergraduate degree she entered the New York School of Social Work as an Urban League Fellow from 1920 to 1921. Sixteen years later she completed a master's degree at the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration.
In 1952, Lindsay earned a doctorate in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. She taught a few years before beginning her social work experiences as a family welfare practitioner, agency administrator, and social researcher. In 1937, Lindsay joined the Department of Sociology at Howard University as an instructor and assistant in charge of social work under E. Franklin Frazier. In 1945, a School of Social Work was established at Howard, and Lindsay became dean. When she retired in 1967, Lindsay was the only female university academic dean in the Washington, D.C. area. Committed to principles of social justice, she maintained a strong role in professional leadership while promoting the growth of the School of Social Work. Under Lindsay's leadership, the Howard University School of Social Work became the second accredited school in the country serving black students. She published a number of survey papers and articles on community leadership, the elderly, and black participation in social welfare.