NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Ruth E. Smalley (1903-1979)
Ruth E. Smalley exemplified a social work philosopher who had the courage to express social work concepts and processes in nontraditional language and to encourage practitioners to reexamine their own practice in relationship with clients according to the philosophies of Otto Rank.
Born in Chicago, Smalley received her bachelor's degree in 1924 from the University of Minnesota; and her master of social work degree in 1929 from Smith College; and her doctoral of social work degree in 1949 from the University of Pittsburgh.
She practiced first in the Bureau of Child Guidance in New York from 1929 to 1932, then was on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Smith College, and the University of Pittsburgh. From 1950, she was professor of social work at the University of Pennsylvania and then became dean. She was a leader in school social work. She made major contributions to the establishment of both the Council on Social Work Education and NASW and she served on the Temporary Interassociation Committee which established NASW. Her writings covered a wide range of social work issues.