Martha Chickering

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Martha Alexander Chickering (1886-1988) was a social work educator, Director of the California State Department of Social Welfare (1939-1945) and member of the California Social Work Hall of Distinction. She was included for her work in establishing professional social work education in the state of California.[1]


She was a member of the Chickering family of Massachusetts, later Oakland and Piedmont, California.[2] She attended the NYC YWCA Training School from 1911 until 1913 after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1910.[1]

From 1918 to 1920, Chickering headed the Polish Grey Samaritans, YWCA's efforts on post-war reconstruction in newly-formed Poland under the Herbert Hoover-founded American Relief Association. In the 1920s, she was an executive of the local American Red Cross for five years.[1]

When Berkeley's economics department started an accredited social work certificate program in 1928, Chickering was hired to supervise the field training of the students and became the program director in 1932. [1]

In 1936, she received an PhD in economics at UC Berkeley and was appointed professor of Berkeley’s Curriculum in Social Services the same year.[1][3] In 1939, she became the Director of the California State Department of Social Welfare.[1]

After retiring in 1945, Martha moved to the Mojave Desert outside Victorville, California and continued writing. She moved to Pasadena, California when she couldn’t live alone any longer. She died there in 1988 when she was 102.[1]


In 1994, the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare established the Martha Chickering Fellowship.[4]


  • Into a Free Poland Via Germany published by Overseas Dept., National Board of the Young Women's Christian Associations, New York City, N.Y., 1920 OCLC 13768866
  • Why California Registers its Social Workers; California Conference of Social Welfare, May 26, 1948, Long Beach. Provided by California Board of Behavioral Services.
  • The Founding of a Mojave Desert Community. California Historical Society Quarterly 1 June 1948; 27 (2): 113–122. doi:10.2307/25156094


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Martha Chickerimg". California Social Work Hall of Distinction. Retrieved 22 December 2022.
  2. ^ "William H. Chickering". Oakland - LocalWiki. Retrieved 2023-05-20.
  3. ^ "Women's Dwindling Share of the Faculty | 150 Years of Women at Berkeley". UC Berkeley. Retrieved 2023-05-20.
  4. ^ "Martha Chickering Fellowship". UC Berkeley Fellowship. Retrieved 22 December 2022.