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Lindeman, Eduard

in: People

Eduard C. Lindeman (May 9, 1885 — April 13, 1953) — Philosopher, Teacher, Scholar and Social Reformer


Early Years: Eduard C. Lindeman was born in 1885 in St.Claire, Michigan, one of ten children, of an impoverished immigrant family of German speaking Danes. His father died when he was a young boy and he spent his early years working as a farm laborer. He later prepared himself to meet the requirements of Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1911. He edited THE GLEANER, a Lansing, MI magazine during 1911-1912 and worked as a social worker from 1912 to 1914. In 1915 he joined the staff of Michigan Agricultural College as the extension worker of the state’s 4­-H clubs. Two years later he began a teaching career at the YMCA College in Chicago. He married Hazel Charlitte Taft and they had four daughters.

Eduard C. Lindeman
Eduard C. Lindeman
Photo: NASW Foundation

Professional Career: From 1919 to 1921 he taught at the North Carolina College for Women. His resignation there was forced. The KKK put pressure on the college because he invited blacks to his home and he objected to faculty attempts to dictate his teaching methods. He spent the next two years as a free lance reporter.  In 1924 he became professor of social philosophy at the New York School of Social Work and remained in that position until his retirement in 1950. He was considered a community organization specialist but his first courses reflected his interest in social ethics. He also taught courses in unions and labor economy. He was a social activist who undertook pioneering work in adult education, community organization, group work, and labor management problems. His Democratic Christian Socialist social philosophy was enough to bring him to the attention of the McCarthy committee. He was joined by other social workers such as Marian Hathaway, Bertha Reynolds and Charlotte Towle. While a few stood up, social work’s response to this social injustice was not notable. Dr. Gisela Konopka who did her doctoral thesis at the Columbia University School of Social Work on a study of his philosophy wrote that on the last day of his life he said, “This is a beautiful country. Don’t let McCarthy spoil it.” Lindeman did some work other than at the NYSSW. For example, from 1935-1938 he was director of Community Organization for Leisure in the WPA and in 1946 he was educational advisor to the Britist Army in Germany. He was also extremely active in community and professional organizations, including the American Association for Adult Education, the National Urban League, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, the National Child Labor Committee, and the National Conference on Social Welfare, (NCSW) of which he was president, to name a few. At one time in his career he was a lecturer at the Delhi School of Social Work and when Dr. Ruby Pernell was the social welfare attaché there she found sixteen notebooks of Lindeman’s in the School’s library which she gave to the University of Minnesota Social Welfare History Archives. He had become ill while there and had to leave quickly.

The NCSW established the Edward C. Lindeman Memorial Lectures in 1954, designed to promote a more effective collaboration between social work and practice and the social sciences.

Republished from: NASW Foundation

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): NASW Foundation (2004). Eduard C. Lindeman (May 9, 1885 — April 13, 1953) — Philosopher, teacher, scholar and social reformer.  Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved [date accessed] from


On his death in 1953, the New York School of Social Work issued the following news release:

THE NEW YORK SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK                                                              May 6, 1953


2 East 91st Street

New York 28, N.Y.

For further information:                                                                                  For Release:

John A. Weil                                                                                                    PM Papers of Friday, May 8

TR.  6-6300                                                                                                    AM Papers Saturday, May 9

New York, N.Y… To preserve the philosophy and values of the late Dr.  Eduard C.  Lindeman in education for social work and in our society, The New York School of Social Work, Columbia University, announced yesterday (Friday) that it will establish a permanent “Eduard C.  Lindeman Professorial Chair.”  Dr. Lindeman, who died April 13, had been a Professor at the School for 26 years.

An international effort will be made to obtain $500,000 by “Lindeman Friendship Groups” to be formed in more than 16 cities throughout the United States and abroad.  Mrs. Richardson Pratt, of New York City, has been named Chairman of the Chair Committee.

Plans for the Chair were announced at a special tribute to the pioneer in social work and education at the New York School of Social Work, on the eve of his 68th birtday.  A sculptured portrait of Dr. Lindeman, by Mrs. Ruth Brall, was unveiled and placed in the foyer of the School.

Speaking at the tribute were Kenneth D. Johnson, dean of The New York School of Social Work, Dr. Ordway Tead, chairman of the Board of Education of the City of New York, and Mrs. Richardson Pratt, trustee of the School.

Dean Johnson described the importance of the Chair to the field of social work. “Education for social work”, he said, “must be more than teaching of knowledge and skills, it must develop a real understanding of the democratic philosophy of human welfare.

“The Lindeman Chair will mean that the philosophy of Dr. Lindeman will be integrated into our total curriculum and will included the teaching of basic courses in the Master’s and the Advanced Curriculum, institutes for lay leaders, and special workshops and institutes to interpret the necessary team relationships between professional social workers and other citizens concerned with community needs.”

Mrs. Pratt quoted from a response Dr.  Lindeman had made when preliminary plans for the Chair were being formed.  He had said, “…this Chair ought not be filled by someone who attempts an imitation of Lindeman.  He must be a creative person in his own right…he must not be an ivory tower philosopher but rather one who plays an active role in the life of the community, the nation and the world…And, if I were to advise this young person further, I would suggest that he dedicate himself to the task of bringing social work into a realistic alignment with religion and ethics.”

Dr. Tead, discussing the purpose of the Chair, said, “it is surely not any part of this purpose to continue merely one man’s doctrine, but rather to give permanence to a way of thought, to the broad philosophical outlook of a great teacher.”

“I am glad to realize”, he concluded, “that this new professorship will perpetuate the memory of Ed Lindeman and his contribution.  And I am gratified that it will also encourage many teachers and students to appreciate that continuing dynamic teaching in the area of social philosophy is of the essence of the mandate of what this School is obligated to teach to all who propose to deal professionally in the guidance of human beings.”

Mrs. Pratt reported that Lindeman Friendship Groups will be formed, not only in geographical areas of the world, but around the areas of special interests in which Dr. Lindeman worked.  These include social work, public education, adult education, civil liberties, child welfare, family relations, industry and labor.  She further reported that a Core Committee to coordinate the international effort will be announced shortly.

Cities in which friendship groups are being formed, which were suggested by Dr. Lindeman, include:  Boston, Mass., Chicago, Ill., Dallas, Texas, Detroit, Michigan, Germantown, Pa., Kansas City, Mo., Louisville, Ky., Madison, Wis., New Orleans, La., New York, N.Y., Philadelphia, Pa., Pittsburgh, Pa., Portland, Ore., Rockford, Ill., Toronto, Canada, Washington, D.C.

Source: Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota.

On his death in 1953, the American Civil Liberties Union memorialized Dr. Lindeman with the following Resolution:


The officers and members of the American Civil Liberties Union have heard, with deep sense a sorrow and loss, of the death of their comrade, Eduard C.  Lindeman.  We have long known and esteemed him as a fruitful scholar, a wise counselor, a loyal friend, on to whom we have turned, as naturally as a flower to the sun, for light and leading.  Now, in the shock of his passing, we see qualities of life which place him securely among the great Americans of our time.

Eduard Lindeman was primarily a teacher- one who would know the truth and impart it, that its use might make men free.  He discovered early that experience, added to learning, disclosed the recurring struggle for the larger liberties of men.  He saw that each new generation must sustain this struggle, and thus, in these difficult and dangerous days, gave himself unstintingly to the saving of mankind.

Eduard Lindeman was just, gentle, magnanimous, yet rigorous in his fidelity to standards.  His humility was a model of unpretentious.  He traveled great distances to scatter the seeds of truth.  Equally at ease in church pulpits, on public platforms, in his own professor’s chair, he strove to fulfill.

Note:  In the RECOLLECTION section there is a letter Eduard C. Lindeman sent to Joe Hoffer, Executive Director of the National Conference on Social Work just a few months before Lindeman passed away. The correspondence refers first to efforts to recruit a speaker for the next annual conference. More importantly, the letter is a defense of Lindeman’s politics or positions that had been criticized in an American Legion publication.

NoteBelow is a resume prepared by Eduard C. Lindeman.


Education: Began his formal education at the age of 21.  Graduated from Michigan State College in 1911.

Former positions: Professor of social philosophy at the New York School of Social Work from 1924 to 1950.

Visiting professor at the University of Delhi, India 1949.

Sometimes lecturer and visiting professor at University of Wisconsin, University of California, University of California at Los Angeles, Rockford College, Temple University, etc.

Other activities: Chairman, Board of Trustees National Child Labor Committee

Trustee, Briarcliff Junior College

Board Member, New York Adult Education Council

Board Member, American Labor Education Service

Board Member, New York Association of Day Nurseries

Board Member, American Civil Liberties Union

Author: The Community

The Meaning of Adult Education

Social Education

Social Discovery

Dynamic Social Research (with John Hader)

Urban Sociology (with Nels Anderson)

The Democratic Way of Life (with T.V.  Smith)

Wealth and Culture

Leisure:  A National Issue

Edited collection of Emerson’s Essays

Edited collection of Plutarch’s Lives

Source: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Social Welfare History Archives. Minneapolis, MN: