Site 10: School of Social Work (Education/Social Work Bldg.) (ES)
902 W. New York St. (Formerly 122 E. Michigan St.)
Education Social Work Building Exterior, 1982, UA24-003734
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
In the years after Edna Henry’s (Site 1) pioneering efforts to bring medical social work training to Indianapolis, progress in establishing a true school of social work at Indiana University Indianapolis stagnated. During the 1930s, social work courses were taught through the Indianapolis campus’s training program. However, in the post-World War II years, an increased demand for social services came from disabled veterans returning home, and led to a shortage of social service workers. In order to provide additional trained social service workers, IU decided to close its Social Work Training Course in Indianapolis and open a more formalized program within the College of Arts and Sciences. This program, the Division of Social Services (now the School of Social Work), would run a graduate school and provide undergraduate social work courses currently taught in Bloomington. The first home of this new division was in the University Extension Center, 122 E. Michigan St. The program later relocated to its current home at 902 W. New York Street after the undergraduate campus of IUPUI opened.
First Director, Indiana University Social Service Division
"Grace Browning, n.d.," UA24-005547,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
When Grace Browning came to Indiana University Indianapolis in February 1945 to create the Division of Social Service, she was already a seasoned social worker. During the Great Depression, Browning had organized the social service division of the Federal Emergency Relief Fund in Oklahoma in conjunction with the organization of Oklahoma’s department of public welfare. She then served as assistant director of the division for several years. Browning had also taught at Tulane University, the University of Chicago, and most recently at the University of Pittsburgh, where she had also organized a program to allow students to complete field work at a variety of public agencies. 1
As director, Browning organized the social work program, recruiting faculty and students, creating a curriculum, and cultivating relationships with social agencies throughout the state. These relationships were vital to establishing field placements for students. She also began the process of accreditation for the new division. Browning first worked with Dr. John Van Nuys, Dean of the School of Medicine, on a curriculum for medical social work that met accreditation requirements of the American Association of Medical Social Workers. The rest of the school of social work gained accreditation in 1950. 2 In fact, her efforts were so successful that the IU Faculty Council passed a resolution on her death, stating, “With her unusual administrative skill – combining meticulous attention to detail with purposeful imagination – and her extraordinary devotion both to her profession and to teaching, she built in the brief six years allotted her a well-integrated and soundly professional curriculum and brought together a harmonious faculty dedicated to its task. Because of her vision the future development of the Division seems assured.” 3
Besides her responsibilities at IU, Browning worked with the State Department of Public Welfare’s Committee on Undergraduate Training from 1945 to 1951. She also served on numerous boards and committees, including the Indianapolis Children’s Bureau, the Indianapolis Community Chest, and the Indiana State Conference on Social Work. Browning chaired the Advisory Committee to the Division of Technical Training for the United States Children’s Bureau and served as vice-president of the American Association of Schools of Social Work. At the time of her death, Browning had recently been chosen as the first American social worker assigned to the Technical Assistance Program of the United Nations. She was to serve as a consultant to the Italian Schools of Social Work. 4
Browning died unexpectedly on February 7, 1951. The Division of Social Services established the Grace Browning Memorial Scholarship fund in her honor “to perpetuate Miss Browning’s interest in finding funds for social work students who needed financial aid to complete their educations.” 5 In her six years at Indiana University Indianapolis, Browning had succeeded in establishing a strong and lasting school of social services for the city.
Director of the Indiana University Division of Social Services and First Dean of the Graduate School of Social Work
"Mary H. Houk, 195-," Taken by News Bureau,
IU Medical Center, UA24-006910,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
Mary Houk came to Indiana University in 1945 as the director of fieldwork for the division of social services. She helped Dr. Grace Browning plan the new division’s curriculum and developed field placements for students. Browning and Houk had previously worked together at the Oklahoma Relief Administration. Houk earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and her master’s degree from the University of Chicago. Besides her work in Oklahoma, she had also served as the regional supervisor for the Midwest for the National Travelers Aid Society during World War II. 6
When Grace Browning died unexpectedly in 1951, President Herman B. Wells appointed Houk director because she had worked closely with Browning on the division’s development. Houk worked to achieve Browning’s goals, maintaining staff and students, and revising curricula to incorporate new methods. She also successfully managed the program through a series of hard times during the early 1950s, which included decreased enrollment, loss of field placements due to an overhaul of the public welfare system under Governor George Craig, and budget cuts. During these years, she also taught classes and boosted enrollment through grant funding that paid the costs of new professors and scholarships. From a little over a dozen students in 1945, by 1966 Houk had grown the program to 112 students. 7
Like her predecessor, Houk shared her professional experience with a variety of committees and social service agencies. She chaired the division of graduate schools of the Council on Social Work Education, where she oversaw the work of schools throughout the United States and Canada; served as secretary of the Council on Social Work Education; chaired the Division of Graduate Schools and the Committee on Training of International Students; and served as a member of the Curriculum Study Committee, the Governor’s Council for Children and Youth, the Indiana Mental Health Association, the Indiana Conference on Social Welfare, the Indianapolis Travelers’ Aid Society, and the Marion County Juvenile Court Advisory Committee. 8
In 1966, the Board of Trustees of Indiana University voted to make the Division of Social Services a school. Houk became the first dean, but because of the university’s mandatory retirement age of sixty-five for administrators, she only served in the capacity for a few months. Houk later recalled the irony that, for fifteen years she had served as director of the division, and then just when she became dean, she had to settle for the role of dean emeritus.
When Houk retired in August 1966, she accepted a position in New York at the National Council on Social Work Education. Many administrators, faculty, and students were sorry to see Houk leave. One recalled, “All who have been associated with her will remember her generous spirit, her kindness, her patience, her innate sense of quality, her belief in the worth of each individual – the very essence of the profession to whose devotion she has been and always will be dedicated.” 9 Houk died in June 1988, at which time the School of Social Work established the Mary Hammond Houk Memorial Fund in her honor.
1 “They Achieve,” Indianapolis Star, 25 November 1945, p4p15; “Dr. Grace Browning Named to Head New Social Service Division of IU,” Indianapolis Star, 10 February 1945, p22.
2 Ibid; Grace Browning clipping file, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives; H.C. Roger, Seventy Years of Social Work Education at Indiana University (Indianapolis: Indiana University School of Social Work, 1983), 57, 60, 65, 67.
3 Grace Browning clipping file.
4 Mary Houk clipping file, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives.
5 Roger, 73.
6 Roger, 59; Mary Houk clipping file; “Retiring I.U. Director Just Getting Started,” Indianapolis News, 17 May 1966, p16.
7 Roger, 73-5; Mary Houk clipping file.
8 “IU Aide Wins Post in Council,” Indianapolis Star, 3 February 1954, p9; Mary Houk clipping file.
9 Mary Houk clipping file; “Retiring I.U. Director Just Getting Started.”