The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women: From the Earliest Times to 2004

By Elizabeth Ewan; Sue Innes et al. | Go to book overview
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MACADAM, Elizabeth, born Chryston, near Glasgow, 10 Oct. 1871, died Edinburgh 25 Oct. 1948. Social worker. Daughter of Elizabeth Whyte, and Thomas Macadam, Presbyterian minister. Elizabeth Macadam's childhood was spent partly in Canada before she and her sister returned to Scotland and lived for some years in Edinburgh. In 1898, she was awarded a Pfeiffer scholarship to train in social work at the Women's University Setdement in Southwark, London, and in 1902 became the first salaried warden of the Victoria Women's Settlement in Liverpool, a position she held until 1910. She proved an imaginative and capable head. She pioneered many Liverpool medical and educational services for women and children at the setdement and inspired local welloff young women and female students to staff them. Yet she believed firmly that social work should be a profession and not simply a pastime and in 1904 launched a visionary training programme, combining lectures on poverty and politics with supervised practical work. In 1910, the University of Liverpool absorbed this programme and hired Elizabeth Macadam, as lecturer, to run it.

Elizabeth Macadam's success caught the attention of Seebohm Rowntree, who brought her to London early in the First World War to train welfare workers for factories run by the Ministry of Munitions. In 1919 she left Liverpool permanently to become secretary to a new, London-based Joint Universities Council for Social Science, which was to co-ordinate training programmes. The move caused a personal crisis, for she had developed a close friendship with Eleanor Rathbone, by then a Liverpool city councillor. Rathbone was determined not to hamper Macadam's career and in 1919 the two women bought a house in Westminster. But in the end it was Eleanor Rathbone who profited more from the move: the Westminster house became the base for her blossoming political career and Macadam's organising skills were an asset to many Rathbone campaigns. In the 1920s, when Rathbone served as President of NUSEC, Macadam became an officer and the editor of its paper; after

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