NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Katherine Vickery (1898-1978)
After earning degrees from North Georgia College and George Peabody College for Teachers, Dr. Vickery taught psychology at the University of Montevallo from 1922 to 1968. It was during this period that she touched the lives of students deeply. She taught many people going into the field of social work. Many of them have given generously to a University of Montevallo memorial scholarship established in her honor in 1978; appropriately recognizing the outstanding qualities of mind and spirit which distinguished her career.
Dr. Vickery served as president of the Alabama Psychological Association and was a fellow of the Alabama Academy of Science and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As national president of Kappa Delta Pi, she was awarded the honor key, laureatea distinction given to select living members of the national honorary.
Katherine Vickery, educator and innovator, was more than merely a woman who made a name for herself in her profession nationally. An outspoken advocate of womens rights, she chaired the subcommittee of the Alabama Governors Commission on the Status of Women and during that time was instrumental in putting together a two-day conference held on the Alabama College Campus in 1950. The conference, the first of its kind in Alabama, attracted outstanding speakers and professional women from all over the nation and represented a milestone in the history of the Womens Rights Movement in our state and region.
Her greatest contribution to the cause of womens rights was her work as a charter member of the American Association of University Women, wherein she stood up for her female colleagues by ensuring that positions of leadership were awarded based on the professional qualifications of both male and female candidates equally. Eventually, she served as President of the Alabama Division 1948-50) and Vice President of the Southeast Central Region, gaining thereby a nationwide reputation.
Dr. Vickery also maintained a lifelong commitment to mental health. She played an active role in the Alabama Mental Health Association from its earliest days and saw it grown into an important force in shaping policy. After her retirement, she dedicated herself to researching the mental health field in Alabama. Her research culminated in the publishing of her book, A History of Mental Health in Alabama, in 1972. This work is said to have charted a course in the mental health field, which placed the state among the leaders in the nation in the development of programs and facilities for the mentally handicapped.