NASW Pioneers Biography Index


The National Association of Social Workers Foundation is pleased to present the NASW Social Work Pioneers®. NASW Pioneers are social workers who have explored new territories and built outposts for human services on many frontiers. Some are well known, while others are less famous outside their immediate colleagues, and the region where they live and work. But each one has made an important contribution to the social work profession, and to social policies through service, teaching, writing, research, program development, administration, or legislation.

The NASW Pioneers have paved the way for thousands of other social workers to contribute to the betterment of the human condition; and they are are role models for future generations of social workers. The NASW Foundation has made every effort to provide accurate Pioneer biographies.  Please contact us at naswfoundation@socialworkers.org to provide missing information, or to correct inaccurate information. It is very important to us to correctly tell these important stories and preserve our history.  

Please note, an asterisk attached to a name reflects Pioneers who have passed away. All NASW Social Work Pioneers® Bios are Copyright © 2021 National Association of Social Workers Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

    
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Edith M. Baker Photo
Edith M. Baker* (1885-1978)

Edith M. Baker was the first medical consultant for the U.S. Children's Bureau. She was a leader in medical social work as well as in the American Association of Medical Social Workers, for which she served as president from 1929 to 1931, and as the first chairman of the American Association of Medical Social Workers Committee on medical care which was assigned to work with federal agencies to address social problems in health programs. As chairman, she visited the directors of the new health and welfare programs that were a part of the Social Security Acts of the mid-1930s. Her aim was to promote the inclusion of social work staff at high levels.

As a result of Baker's visits to the U.S. Children's Bureau, the Chief, Dr. Martha Elliot, challenged Ms. Baker to take leave from her position in St. Louis and come to the Children's Bureau for six months to put recommendations into effect. Edith Baker accepted this challenge and did not leave the U.S. Children's Bureau until mandatory retirement at age 70, which occurred in the early 1960's.

Edith Baker was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She earned a certificate from Simmons College School of Social Work in Boston and did her field work placement at Massachusetts General Hospital where she later was employed as a social worker. She then became the director of the Social Services Department at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, where she stayed until joining the U.S. Children's Bureau.

Following her position with the U.S. Children's Bureau, she became Chief Social Worker in the maternal and child health services at the District of Columbia Health Department. She lived in the District of Columbia until her death. Baker's personal papers and other materials about her life are available at the Schlesinger Library on Women in American, Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 




Newly Inducted NASW Social Work Pioneer Hortense McClinton 2015

Nominate A New NASW Pioneer

Please note, Pioneer nominations made between today’s date through March 31, 2023, will not be reviewed until spring 2023.

Completed NASW Pioneer nominations can be submitted throughout the year and are reviewed at the June Pioneer Steering Committee Meeting. To be considered at the June meeting, submit your nomination package by March 31. To learn more, visit our Pioneer nomination guidelines.


New Pioneers 

Congratulations newly elected Pioneers!  2020, 2021 and 2022 Pioneers were inducted at the 2022 Annual Program and Luncheon. 

2022 Special Honoree
2021
2020