Ilse Arlt

* 01.05.1876 (Vienna) 25.05.1969 (Vienna) Austria
Fields of activity: social worker, teacher, social welfare activist
Author: Charlotte Rastl und Helga Magyar

Unless Vienna Foto ilse arlt

„While poverty expresses negotation it cannot be the starting point for a positive work – like welfare care. Therefore it is necessary to contemplate the  human prosper, the positive.“ (I.A.)

Although she was in many fields an autodidact she created basics in the development of social work as a scientific profession, founded 1912  the first school for welfare in the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy and wrote also the first textbooks in special fields for social work.

I.A. was the second youngest child from 4 brothers and  sisters. Her jewish mother (painter) teached  her. I.A. passed her exams with distinction.  Her grandfather  (on the father´s side) came from a poor mountain blacksmith. He had extraordinary results as  an opththalmologist. Fort hat reason he was raised to peerage.. Her progressived parents home helped the precocious Ilse to  philosophize, to discuss social problems at that time and  to concern about poverty..

The year of her Ist publication was 1902.:“The industrial night work of women in Austria“.1905 she was appointed as the first woman trade factory inspoecorate.

Unfortunately she got sick and could not work in this occupation. She started ans an „autodidact“ without an A-level but with a special permit to study national economy and social economy.

 Practical studies in factories,suburbs and slums got her shure in the opinion that all  the work in support for social welfare was  not sufficient to help efficially. One significant critism was against the definition to consider poverty as a tolerate fact.

While ,,,,,,,Eingangssatz? Wiederholen?

She defined 13  basic needs for  the joys of life, beyond this leves a person  will suffer durable. „To fulfill these, this ist he task oft he welfare care“

Air, light,warmth, water, nutrion,living, personal hygiene, clothing, medical and nurse treatment, accident prevention and first aid, recreation,family life, administration of justice, education, mental attitude like morale, ethics and religion.

Here efforts to improve in these spheres were culminated in the foundation oft he Ist school for welfare workers in Vienna – Union for expert course for national care“ A panel of physicians and professors who have been friends sincer a long time teached free.This school should have been known also a research place. Many  books about the subjects welfare and support (help) was written by her. I.A. attended international events about welfare in Paris, Munic and Kopenhagen.

National Sociallismus prohibited her to work, because  of her jewish mother.The school was closed, the material collection disappeared and the books were destroyed. The support of parents and pupils, as well as the renting of parts of her flat, helped her to survive the NS-Time in Vienna, 1945 the school was reopened, but there was not enough money and it was closed after 4 years.

I.A: died 1960, 84 years old, as a result of an hurt in her Vienniese flat.

Only 2008 the rest of her  estate was founded and the collection has been  revised from scientist. The Art College in St. P. is now named I.A. Institue. Since 2012 a  memorial plaque was establsihed at the place of her former first welfare school.

An extensive exihibition is dedicated about her life and  work since March 2013.


Photocredits: Ilse Arlt, author Maria Szöllösi.

Sources: Picture archiv ONB with reference to

with friendly permission of ONB ((Austrian National Library) of 20.01.2014