Myrtle Brooke (1872-1948)

Myrtle Brooke was a native of Canton, Georgia who spent most of her life in Montevallo, Alabama. She came to the Alabama College for Women, now the University of Montevallo, in 1908 as chairman of the Department of Psychology and Education.

In 1924, Miss Brooke organized a sociology department. At that time, Alabama was one of only a few states operating child welfare programs. Miss Brooke recognized the need for trained workers, and in 1925, she began the first two-year undergraduate social work curriculum in the state, and one of the first in the nation. Her students gained field experience in Shelby County.

Myrtle Brooke

"Miss Brooke had a remarkable capacity to demonstrate to young workers the need to help people help themselves," recalls Louise Pittman, former director of the Bureau of Family and Children's Services of the State Department of Pensions and Security. "She stimulated her students to think as well as care," Miss Pittman says.

Miss Brooke said, "We never do anything for a client that he can do for himself or that we can persuade his family to do for him. Take this time, but it is worth time to see a family pull itself up by its bootstraps."

Under her leadership, the University of Montevallo became the training center for social work in Alabama as a primary site for social work conferences, institutes, and short courses of intensified study.

The services of Miss Brooke with the Shelby County Board of Public Welfare and the County Child Welfare Board helped further understanding of the needs of people and the resources available for meeting those needs, and was directly related to the growth of the state welfare program. She was also a leader in the establishment of the first statewide mental organization and the Alabama Conference of Social Work.

This extraordinary teacher, executive, and scholar, who initiated the first Alabama degree program in social work, was a beloved University of Montevallo professor for forty years.


Barrett, Madie Ward. “About Miss Brooke.” Handwritten notes to author. Summer 1984.

Fuller, Jocelyn. “New Womens Named Brooke.” (University of Montevallo) Alabamian, 2 August 1978, 1.

Griffith, Lucille. Alabama College 1896-1969. Montevallo: University of Montevallo, 1969.

Harmon, Arthur F. “Dr. Brooke Retires.” Report of the President, 1943-44. Alabama College, Montevallo, Alabama. (Mimeographed.) pp. 13-14.

Montevallo, Alabama. Carmichael (University of Montevallo) Library. Correspondence between Miss Brooke and Montevallo administrators and also letters of reference for her. 1908-1909.

“Myrtle Brooke.” Alabama Social Welfare 9 (September 1944): 1-2.

Past Inductees
Alabama Women's Hall of Fame
Judson College

© 2005 Alabama Women's Hall of Fame