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Elizabeth McBroom (1909-1997)

Elizabeth McBroom was born and raised in Spokane, Washington, and attended the Washington State University for her undergraduate degree. She then went to the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration for an MSW, and some years later received a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. For a number of years, she worked as a psychiatric social worker in Chicago and Seattle. She accepted a teaching position at the fairly new University of West Virginia, School of Social Work. She taught classes as well as supervised students in their field placements.

For several years, Dr. McBroom concentrated on developing field placements, especially in state hospitals for the mentally ill, and county facilities like Rancho Los Amigos, newly transformed into a rehabilitation center. Her work in these hospitals was outstanding and led not only to good internships for the school’s students, but also to improved quality of service and, especially to effective interdisciplinary work among social workers, physicians, nurses, and occupational therapists. The value of that experience is still evident in today’s practices in those hospitals.

Another special contribution of Dr. McBroom’s was the development of her theory of socialization, on which her doctoral research was based. This has become not only an important tool in the curriculum of the USC School of Social Work, it is taught widely in other schools and has been adapted for use by a number of social agencies dealing with impoverished or ill families.

Dr. McBroom has written exclusively on human behavior and development, her primary teaching and research focus, as well as on socialization theory. She has given papers at many national associations, including the Council on Social Work Education, and NASW. She also has shared her knowledge through teaching at the Australian Institute of Technology in Perth, Australia and Thomasset University in Thailand, where she was a Fullbright Fellow. She spent a sabbatical in the Virgin Islands, where she did research for the Department of Public Health in local hospitals. She had a leave to conduct research for four months in the Royal Hospital in Perth. These experiences led to recognition by those countries of the special skills present in the USC School of Social Work with two effects: students came here to study, and USC faculty provided teaching or consultation in all of those localities.

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