Social Work Pioneer Ellen Winston

On August 15, 1903, Ellen Black Winston was born in Bryson City.  Starting out as a teacher and director of guidance for Raleigh high schools, Winston went on to serve as the editor of a series of publications on public relief for the Works Progress Administration. She coauthored three books and wrote hundreds of articles related to social welfare policy and legislation. In 1940, she was appointed head of the Department of Sociology and Economics at Meredith College.

Winston was named commissioner of the N. C. Board of Public Welfare in 1944. In that capacity she served on or advised numerous boards, commissions and agencies, both state and national. The Welfare Administration, an extension of the Social Security Act, was established in 1963 in the new U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Winston was appointed the first head of the agency, directing several national public assistance programs.

Throughout her career Winston was an advocate for professional training for social workers, both black and white. She was also a founding member of the National Association of Social Workers. Although she resigned from her federal post in 1967, she remained active in the social work community until her death.

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