Time erases memories, memories of people who have made great
accomplishments during their lifetimes. One such person was Marion Edwina
Kenworthy, M.D. At a time when women physicians occupied subservient places in
medicine and psychiatry, she found ways to use her knowledge, skills, and
personality to improve the world. She was the first woman vice president of
APA (1965-66); the first woman president of the American Psychoanalytic
Association (1958-59), American Academy of Child Psychiatry (1959-61), and
Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (1959-60); the recipient of the APA
Agnes Purcell McGavin Award for astounding contribution to child psychiatry
(1971); recipient of honorary degrees from the Women's Medical College in
Philadelphia (doctor of medical science, 1968) and Columbia University (doctor
of science, 1973). She was a pioneer in teaching psychiatry in social
Kenworthy was born in Hamden, Mass. She received a medical degree from
Tufts in 1913. She then spent three years at the Garden State Hospital and
three years at Foxboro State Hospital, both in Massachusetts. She also spent
time at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital and the Judge Baker Guidance
In 1919 Kenworthy moved to New York City, serving as an assistant at the
Vanderbilt Clinic and Neurology Institute. In 1921 she underwent a training
analysis with Otto Rank. That year she affiliated with the Bureau of Child
Guidance, soon becoming its director. She also began to teach psychiatry at
the New York School of Social Work (soon to become part of Columbia
University). She taught psychiatry to hundreds of social workers until 1956,
when she retired to become professor emerita. At her retirement, the Marion E.
Kenworthy Professorial Chair in Psychiatry was established at the School of
Social Work in her honor.
Kenworthy's activities were manifold, especially in serving on boards of
directors and on committees. She was active with the National Association for
Mental Health, N.Y. State Charities Aid Association, National Conference of
Social Workers, Wiltwyck School for Boys (which she helped establish), the
Menninger Foundation board, and others. She was a charter member of the
American Orthopsychiatric Association, a life fellow of the New York Academy
of Medicine, and an associate member of the World Federation for Mental
Health. She worked with the Children's Court in New York.
During World War II, Kenworthy helped establish Selective Service criteria,
was appointed to the National Civilian Advisory Committee for the Women's Army
Corps, helped to provide the impetus for mental hygiene clinics in the
military, and promoted the status of social work. She provided consultation to
the U.S. Public Health Service from 1946 to 1950.
Kenworthy collected books. She donated 50 books of rare quality (16th- to
19th-century publications) and 65 pamphlets, mainly from the 19th century, to
On September 9, 1988, APA dedicated the Marion E. Kenworthy Learning Center
in the Library in its headquarters at the time in Washington, D.C. A
conference room named in her honor and furnished with audiovisual equipment
for learning and research is now a part of APA's new headquarters in
Arlington, Va. The Kenworthy donation has been integrated with the rare-book
collection in APA's library.
Viola Bernard, M.D., Kenworthy's friend and colleague, wrote of her:"
[S]he was a compassionate, generous, and gifted clinician, teacher, and
administrator.... Her way of living her life has made an immense difference...
in the lives of many people.... She gave of her wisdom, hard work, and
organizational ability...." ▪