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.
"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
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
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
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.