The professional social work curriculum began to develop on the UW-Madison campus in 1920 when the Economics Department recruited Professor Helen I. Clarke with the explicit aim of developing a professional program in social work. Professor Clarke was a graduate of Smith College and a social worker in settlement houses in New York City.
The American Red Cross financed Professor Clarke’s initial appointment at the university in an attempt to demonstrate that social work education had a valid place on a university campus. The two decades between 1926 and 1945 were difficult years for the social work program, and all social work courses and field training were taught by Professor Clarke.
However, by 1946, the social work program was sufficiently well organized and funded that the Board of Regents authorized the separation of the social work program from the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology and authorized its establishment as a separate Department of Social Work offering a two-year Master’s degree in Social Work.
This scholarship is meant to honor the career of Helen I. Clarke and her tireless efforts to establish the School of Social Work.