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Inabel Burns Lindsay Bio

Inabel Burns Lindsay was born February 13, 1900 in St. Joseph, Missouri. The Burns family set a high priority on education and achievement which reflected on the accomplishments of all of the children. Inabel, named Innie Belle by her parents, was no exception. Forced to cope wth serious disabilities during childhood, Indabel became fiercely independent and developed the strength and determination that equipped her later in life to address many of the challenges of her times. As a young student she became keely aware of racial discrimination and this became the stimulus to her breaking down barriers in the interest of social justice. 

She attended Howard University in 1916. During her time at Howard she was actively involved with campus activities including membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and founder of the Howard Chapter of the Women's Suffrage League. After receiving her undergraduate degree in 1920, she entered the New York School of Social Work as an Urban League Fellow. She later received the Master of Arts in Social Work degree from the University of Chicago and the Doctor of Social Work degree from the University of Pittsburgh. 

Prior to joining the faculty of Howard University in 1937, Inabel Lindsay taught in public schools in Kansas City where she developed innovative methods in teaching at-risk chldren. In addition, she carried out research for the National Urban League in cities that were experiencing racial unrest and developed recommendations for addressing their needs. She advanced from social worker to administrator in the public welfare system and played a major role in developing policies and prgrams in public welfare during the Great Depression. 

The eminent sociologist and social worker, Dr. E. Franklin Frazier, was influential in bringing Dr. Lindsay to Howard University in 1937. The rest is history. She retired in 1967. For 30 years, she was a leader at the universtiy as well as within her profession. Among her noted accomplishments were her contributions to the socio-cultural perspective in social work practice and advocacy for the Black elderly.

Dr. Lindsay, who served as Dean for the School of Social Work from 1937 - 1967, was known for her public service locally and nationally. Dr. Lindsay was a trailblazer - the only female academic dean at any Washington, DC area university during this 30 year period. Her leadership was demonstrated through her service as a delegate of the 1966 White House Conference on Civil Rights and on the District of Columbia Public Welfare Advisory Board. Her lifetime as a champion for social justice was and remains an extraordinary accomplishment. 

In 1982, Dr. Lindsay was awarded the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, by Howard University. In 1985, the Board of Trustees named the building housing the School of Social Work in her name - Dr. Inabel Burns Lindsay Hall - a permanent acknowledgement of the outstanding contribution of a Black woman to our history and social work education. 

Dr. Inabel Burns Lindsay is a NASW Social Work Pioneer. She was married to the late Arnett G. Lindsay for fifty-eight years. Her niece, Ms. Jan Stepto-Millett, states that her aunt was "a wonderful and talented lady." Ms. Stepto-Millett is Vice President of Education Services at Children's Home in Chicago.

Dr. Lindsay's teachings and legacy lives on through the many leaders that the Howard University School of Social Work has produced. Many of the District of Columbia's social workers are graduates of Howard University. Many have also gone on to make an impact nationally, as well as globally. Our alumni have made steadfast contributions to improving the quality of life for the residents of the District of Columbia, especially within communities that are most vulnerable.