NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Anita Rose Williams (1891 - 1983)
Anita Rose Williams was the first black Catholic social worker in the United States and the first black supervisor employed by a Baltimore, Maryland agency. She was born in Baltimore. She had no formal education beyond high school, although she attended sociology lectures at Johns Hopkins University.
During the early 1900s, she did volunteer work in family and child welfare agencies. In 1921, she restructured the city's four black parishes as the Bernard Atkins Organization, which promoted the economic and social assistance of Catholic youth. In 1923, after a year of employment with the Vincent de Paul Society, she began working for the Bureau of Catholic Charities of Baltimore. With the help of four other social workers, she organized District Eleven of the Baltimore Emergency Relief Commission. Before returning to Catholic Charities in 1936, she worked as a supervisor for the commission for 3 years. She retired from Catholic Charities in 1958.
Ms. Williams also served on a number of health, welfare, and human relations boards. A building at the Barrett School for Girls in Glen Burnie, Maryland was named in her honor.