Dorothy C. Kahn

During the Depression, Dorothy C. Kahn helped pioneer social work as a service provided by the government to all who needed it, instead of the responsibility of just private or religious charities. Kahn began her career as a caseworker for the Jewish Family Agency from 1915–1918. From 1919–1928 she served as superintendent of the Hebrew Benevolent Association of Baltimore and from 1928–1932 was director of the Jewish Welfare Society of Philadelphia. She chaired a subcommittee for employment for FDR’s Commission on Economic Security. Kahn was president of the American Association of Social Workers from 1934–1936 and later served as staff executive secretary and staff president. During WWII, she served as director of Economic Adjustment and Family Services at the National Refugee Service, aiding those fleeing Europe. From 1945–1950 she was executive director of the Health and Welfare Council of New York City, focusing on aid for children and the elderly. From 1951–1954 she was chief of the Social Welfare Division of the Department of Social Affairs for the UN, working to create a safety net of social services across the world. She died of a heart attack while coordinating hurricane relief in her community.

Topics: Social Science

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Date of Birth

Seattle, WA
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Dorothy C. Kahn ." (Viewed on August 7, 2020) <>.


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