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Rinaldo, Harriet

in: People

Harriet Rinaldo (1906-1981) — Social Worker and Long Time Employee of U.S. Department of Veterans Administration


Harriet Rinaldo
Harriet Rinaldo
Photo: NASW Foundation

Harriett was born in Sioux City, Iowa. She lived in Wheaton, Illinois until she entered Smith College in 1923 and graduated with honors in 1927. She continued at Smith and received her master’s degree in social work. When she was graduated from Smith her parents gave her a trip to Europe as a graduation present. This sparked a life-long interest in travel. By the time that she died, she had visited all of the states in the United States and over 50 foreign countries.

After she received her social work degree she went to work for the Children’s Aid Society in Philadelphia later transferring to the county welfare agency in the same city. In 1943 she moved to New York with the Social Security Agency and in 1946 to the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C. where she remained until her retirement in 1972.

At the Veterans Administration, Harriet was responsible for recruiting hundreds of qualified social workers to fill the manpower requirements of the Post World War II VA Medical Services expansion. In this connection she established job definitions and standards that influenced Civil Service requirements for other federal agencies and for state and local health care programs. Harriett Rinaldo’s work with the U.S. Veterans Administration Social Work Service produced personnel standards, rating procedures, and recruitment procedures that became a model for the federal government and other social work agencies. She was the first to identify “clinical social work” as a specialty standard within personnel specifications.

In addition to her professional employment, Harriet Rinaldo  served on various committees at the National Association of Social Workers and was a key member of the Committee on the Study of Competence from 1963 to 1970 and was on the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) Board that developed the first examinations for the ACSW. She was also active in American Public Welfare Association and the Council on Social Work Education.

Republished from: NASW Foundation 

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): NASW Foundation. (2004). Harriet Rinaldo (1906-1981) – Social worker and long time employee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration. Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved from