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Dorothea Spellman (1907 - 1979)

A distinguished social work educator and practitioner,
Dorothea C. Spellman made her primary contributions in group work
and as an advocate for a unified profession during the years
before the formation of the National Association of Social
Workers. Born in St. Louis, Spellman received her bachelor's
degree in 1928 from Washington University. After teaching for a
year she entered the School of Applied Social Sciences of Western
Reserve University to study group work and subsequently worked
for YWCAs in Cleveland and Honolulu and at the Brashear
Settlement in Pittsburgh. In 1944 Spellman joined the faculty of
the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver,
heading the group work specialization until 1977.

As a member of the Temporary Inter-Association Council of
Social Work Membership Organization and an early board member of
the National Association of Social Workers, Spellman fought to
unite the many specializations in the field of social work. She
also demonstrated the important role of group work. In the
profession and the community, she was a strong advocate of social
change to achieve social justice, helping to establish the Social
Services Employees Union and the American Civil Liberties Union
in the 1930s and 1940s, and later joining the civil rights
movement. Spellman was a long-time member of the National Board
of the YWCA and Consultant to the Southern Ute Tribal Council and
the Navajo Tribal Council.

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