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Loula Dunn Papers

Identifier: sw0048

Scope and Content

This Loula Dunn papers consist chiefly of Loula Dunn's correspondence and speeches reflecting her activities as Alabama commissioner of Public Welfare (1937-1949) and as president (1944-1946) and director (1949-1964) of the American Public Welfare Association (APWA). The bulk of the material pertains to Dunn's tenure at APWA. Most of the correspondence is routine. Much of it is congratulatory letters received upon her appointment, tenth anniversary, and resignation as director of APWA.

The speeches document her philosophy on social work. Dunn addresses topics such as the need for a clearer sense of public commitment to public welfare, better intergovernmental relations, and the need for improved public welfare services. Under Dunn's direction, the APWA actively advocated for more complete welfare services, conveying its opinions and information to the public, lawmakers, and APWA members. For the most part, the attitudes and goals expressed in her speeches reflect the position of the APWA at the time.

The papers also contain clippings, correspondence, reports, and publications from some of Dunn's committee and consulting activities. Documents relating to the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (1942), War Department Representative to Great Britain (1945), participation on the Department of Health Education and Welfare report to extend Social Security Insurance (1953), the Department of Health Education and Welfare Ad Hoc Committee on Public Welfare (1961), the Wyman Report to the Secretary of Health Education and Welfare (1961), and the HEW Advisory Council on Social Security (1963-1965) are all included in her papers.

Arrangement of the collection is essentially chronological. It has been divided into her Alabama period (including the APWA presidency) and her tenure as director of APWA. In each case, records pertaining to her chief position of employment precede those of other professional activities.


  • 1937-1965

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Use of Materials

Open for use in Social Welfare History Archives reading room.


Please contact the Archivist for copyright information.

Biographical Note

Lula Dunn was an influential leader in the American public welfare field from the late 1930s until her retirement in 1964. She was born in Grove Hill, Alabama, circa 1896, and educated at Alabama Polytechnic Institute and the University of North Carolina. She received honorary degrees from Alabama College and from Western College in Ohio. Dunn Began her career as a social case worker and later directed the Alabama Relief Administration and the Alabama Works Progress Administration. From 1937 to 1949, she served as commissioner of the Alabama State Department of Public Welfare.

Her contributions to social work at the national level came through the American Public Welfare Association (APWA). First elected to its board of directors in 1938, she served as the Association's vice-president (1940-1942) and president (1944-1946). In 1949 she resigned her Alabama position to become the full-time director of APWA, a position she held until her retirement in 1964. She was active in building a stronger base of support for the organization nationwide. She traveled extensively, delivered numerous speeches, and served on various advisory committees for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; the Social Security Administration; and other public and private organizations. Lula Dunn died in 1977 in Washington, D.C.


10 linear inches


The collection contains Loula Dunn's correspondence and speeches as Alabama commissioner of public welfare and as president and director of the American Public Welfare Association.

Other Finding Aid

Unpublished inventory available. Please contact Archives for more information.

Acquisition Information

The papers were given to the Social Welfare History Archives by Loula Dunn via the American Public Welfare Association in 1972, 1974, and 1976.

Related Materials

Researchers needing further information on Loula Dunn's career, should consult the American Public Welfare Association recordsin the Social Welfare History Archives.

Loula Dunn Papers
Terry Johnson
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The Social Welfare History Archives Collecting Area