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date: 24 February 2021

Williams, Anita Rosefree

(1891–1983)
  • Wilma Peebles-WilkinsWilma Peebles-WilkinsBoston University, Emerita

Summary

Anita Rose Williams (1891–1983) was a social worker and supervisor. She was the first Black Catholic social worker in the United States and the first Black supervisor employed by a Baltimore, Maryland, agency. She co-organized District Eleven of the Baltimore Emergency Relief Commission.

Anita Rose Williams was the first Black Catholic social worker in the United States and the first Black supervisor employed by a Baltimore, Maryland, agency. Born in Baltimore, she had no formal education beyond high school, although she attended sociology lectures at Johns Hopkins University. During the early 1900s, she did volunteer work in family and child welfare agencies. In 1921 she restructured the city's four Black parishes as the Bernard Atkins Organization, which promoted economic and social assistance to Catholic youths. In 1923, after a year of employment with the Vincent de Paul Society, she began working for the Bureau of Catholic Charities of Baltimore. With the help of four other social workers, she organized District Eleven of the Baltimore Emergency Relief Commission. Before returning to Catholic Charities in 1936, she worked as a supervisor for the commission for three years. She retired from Catholic Charities in 1958. Williams also served on a number of health, welfare, and human relations boards. A building at the Barrett School for Girls in Glen Burnie, Maryland, was named in her honor. See Notable Maryland Women (1977), edited by Winifred G. Helmes.