NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Elizabeth Prince Rice (1900-1995 )
Elizabeth Rice was an outstanding teacher and researcher in the areas of public health social work and maternal and child health services. Born in Brighton, Massachusetts, Rice attended Wellesley College, did postgraduate work at Radcliffe College and received her master's degree from Simmons College in 1923. In 1923, she became assistant director of the Social Services Department in Boston City Hospital; from there, she went in 1927 to direct social services in the Boston Dispensary, and in 1933, to the New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. She also was a clinical professor of social aspects of medicine in the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven from 1946 to 1948 and then associate professor at the Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston from 1948 until the early 1970's. During her years at the Harvard School of Public Health, she was mentor to several generations of students working on master's or doctoral degrees in public health, including social workers, physicians, and nurses. She gave particular emphasis to the social component of maternal and child health services and standards for public health social work practice.
She also was a consultant to the federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and to the Heart Disease Control Program of the U.S. Public Health Service. She was president of the American Association of Medical Social Workers from 1950 to 1952. Furthermore, she was a member of the Temporary Interassociation Committee which negotiated the establishment of NASW, and also was a member of the first NASW Board of Directors. She was active in the American Public Health Association and participated in the establishment of the social work section of that organization.