A list of significant individuals in the history of American social welfare includes, among others, advocates, reformers, educators, social workers, researchers, administrators, bureaucrats and politicians. The persons listed here emerged from a wide variety of backgrounds, gender, race, religious affiliation and education; but they were all motivated to help others for many different reasons.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The driving force behind the civil rights movement, and one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century.

W.E.B. DuBois

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was a noted scholar, editor, and African American activist. Du Bois was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP)

Eleanor Roosevelt

(1884-1962) First Lady, Social Welfare Advocate, Human Rights Leader)

Wilbur J. Cohen

Wilbur Cohen was one of the pioneers of the U.S. Social Security system, and a life-long expert on social insurance and social welfare programs.

Clara Barton

Learn more about the Humanitarian, Nurse, Founder of American Red Cross

Edith Abbot

“History will include her name among the handful of leaders who have made enduring contributions to the field of education. Social work has now taken its place as an established profession….