NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Maida Herman Solomon (1891-1988)
The indomitable spirit of Maida Solomon led her to a pioneering role and to leadership positions both outside and within the social work profession. She was particularly noted for her efforts on behalf of psychiatric social work, efforts which spanned more than 70 years.
Soloman was born in Boston, graduated from Boston public schools and earned her BS degree from Smith College in 1912. She did additional work at Simmons College in Social Sciences. Solomon began her career as a research worker at the Civic Service House from 1914-1916. During this period, she worked actively for women's suffrage, carrying a banner on Boylston Street in 1915.
In 1916, she married Dr. Harry C. Solomon, a leading psychiatrist and neurologist. Their professional interests converged and Maida Solomon's career as a psychiatric and research social worker began to develop. She worked at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital (now the Massachusetts Mental Health Center) from 1916 to 1935. During this time, she and Dr. Solomon wrote a classic monograph on the "plague" of their period entitled "Syphilis of the Innocent".
Solomon joined the Simmons College School of Social Work faculty in 1934 and remained there until her retirement in 1957. She was an organizing and charter member of the American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers (AAPSW) and its first president in 1926.
Solomon developed the psychiatric social work curriculum and headed that sequence at Simmons. She developed student placements in psychiatric settings. She was highly supportive of students in this specialty and also encouraging of their efforts in writing and research in the psychiatric field after they graduated. Solomon met with a group of graduate students for many years even after her retirement. She had a clear vision of the importance of writing and research to further the profession.
Maida Solomon was ahead of her time in encouraging graduates with families to seek part-time work rather than abandoning their careers. She stimulated agencies to open up more part-time opportunities. Solomon was committed to combining career and home, despite the problems. The Solomans had five children and she set a unique example to students by her own ability to integrate the two careers successfully.