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People :: Former Staff :: Marjorie A Brown

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Marjorie Alice Brown

Director of the School of Social Study, 1951-1962

Born 7th February 1907, Miss Marjorie Alice Brown (1907-1964) graduated MA in English from Edinburgh University in 1928. She then took the postgraduate Diploma in Social Study at Edinburgh University (under Nora Milnes).

In 1936-1937, she was one of the first generation of students to undertake a postgraduate Certificate in Mental Health at the London School of Economics, alongside F.E. (Stella) Waldron. She was subsequently appointed Research Psychiatric Social Worker at the Maudsley Hospital, London. During the Second World War, she worked with child evacuees in Westmoreland and contributed to the Westmoreland Evacuation Survey. At the end of the war, she was appointed Senior Psychiatric Social Worker at Crichton Royal Hospital, Dumfries. This was, at the time, a world-renowned centre for excellence in caring for people with mental health problems. Her appointment made her the first psychiatric social worker employed in Scotland. As part of her role, she assisted Dr W. Mayer-Gross in undertaking a mental health survey of Dumfriesshire, the first of its kind in Britain, which was published in 1948.

In 1948, Marjorie was appointed Lecturer in Social Study in the Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s College, Newcastle (it went on to become the University of Newcastle in 1963). This was her last post before she took over from Nora Milnes as Director of the School of Social Study in 1951. Thereafter she was instrumental in the development of medical social work, child care and probation training in Scotland. She also, with Tom Burns, set up the Social Environment Research Unit, and appointed Molly Harrington as its first research fellow.  She travelled to the US where she met Grace Coyle, then writing about the importance of group work. Back in the UK, she contributed to the Younghusband Report, and was appointed to the newly-formed Council for Training in Social Work, and served on the Scottish Advisory Committee of the same body as well as the National Institute for Social Work Training.

Marjorie was an active member of the International Congress of Schools of Social Work. In 1962, she was Chair of the Planning Committee for the European Regional Seminar of the International Association of Schools of Social Work, which she brought to Edinburgh; it took place under the auspices of the social study department at the university. Marjorie became ill soon after returning from an international schools of social work conference in Athens. She was subsequently forced to retire because of ill-health. She died on 21 December 1964.

Tom Burns gave an in memorium lecture at University Chaplaincy Centre, University of Edinburgh, 16 January 1965. Marjorie Brown left a legacy to the university and each year, the best social work student is awarded a cash prize on the basis of this. For a number of years afterwards, a Marjorie Brown Memorial Lecture was held at different universities; the series began in 1966 with ‘Welfare, freedom, equality’, by Eugen Pusić, Marjorie Brown Memorial Fund Inaugural Memorial Lecture, Edinburgh University Department of Social Studies.

Sources: University of Edinburgh Journal (vol. 16 (1951), p. 4, and obituary ‘In Memorium’ in vol. 22 (1965), p. 80. Also an obituary by F. E. Waldron in the British Journal of Psychiatric Social Work, vol. 8, no. 1 (1965), pp. 3-5 and one in The Times 23 December 1964, page 10, Issue 56202.

Also departmental minutes and http://wellcomelibrary.org/item/b22667519