Excerpts from “What We Believe”

Interesting stories and people from the Brown School

Newsboys of St. Louis: In 1910, Ina T. Tyler, a student and researcher in the St. Louis School of Social Economy (now the George Warren Brown School of Social Work), studied a third of the 1,800 local newsboys, more than half of them children of immigrants, to see what their lives were like— and how this work affected their education. Her findings showed that limits on this work, which involved children as young as nine years old, were urgently needed.

George Warren Brown and Betty Hood Bofinger Brown: George Warren Brown moved to St. Louis in 1873. After working as a wholesale shoe salesman, he launched his own shoe factory — which grew into the Brown Shoe Company. Adopted by the Bofinger family, Betty Hood Bofinger grew up in St. Louis and married George Warren Brown in 1885. She was deeply interested in church and civic activities. Betty helped secure the future of the school by donating a substantial sum of money to help build Brown Hall.

Leona Evans: Among the earliest African-American graduates of the School of Social Work, Evans, MSW ’49, has already been engaged in a successful social work career before becoming a student. Among her accomplishments was helping to organize and develop the Nursery Foundation, the first interracial nursery in St. Louis. She was also a pioneer in recruiting black adoptive and foster families.

The McAllisters: William McAllister (M.S.W. ’51) spent his entire career with the YMCA, rising to become vice president and chief operations officer for the YMCA Retirement Fund. His wife, Mary McClain McAllister (M.S.W. ’51) went on to a series of social work, teaching and reading specialist positions. The couple was among the first group of African-American students admitted to the School of Social Work. The McAllisters discuss how they met, Dean Benjamin Youngdahl’s leadership and the culture at the School.

Shanti K. Khinduka: Khinduka, dean of the School of Social Work from 1974 to 2004, is a leading figure in social work education. “I think the biggest challenge for social work education is one of ‘rigor and relevance.’ The rigor is the quality of scholarship, research, and the evidence on which we base our recommendations, our interventions, our policy approaches. The relevance is: Are we seeing what is happening in the community to poor people, to immigrants, to people with incurable diseases, to strangers, to racial minorities, to single mothers, to children, to the aged? Part of the relevance is: Can we be innovative? Innovation is now central to being relevant.”