A Passion Took Her Places - Joy Kam

A Passion that Took Her Places: Miss Margaret Mary Louise Catton

A woman who of Scottish ancestry who contributed to Hawaii in health and social

services to better the islands and people around her was Miss Margaret Mary Louise Catton.

Attending Punahou and other private schools in Hawaii and Scotland, a school in Honolulu

Hawaii, she grew to have a passion for working in social services so she went on to New York

School of Social Work in 1917. Two years later she returned to the islands and worked as the

“first university trained professional social service worker” i. Passionate about her work in social

services she was able to start programs at Palama Settlement, University of Hawai’I, and a court

of domestic relations. Through these seen efforts, Mary’s family, friends and community could

see the passion she carried with her in social services, so they and the Flower Society at

Queen’s Hospital started a social service program at Queen’s Hospital, in 1932. Mary’s

accomplishments at Queen’s hospital were very well observed that she started to expand her

works to other hospitals like, “Leahi Hospital, Kauikeolani Children’s Hospital, St. Francis

Hospital, and the Kuakini Hospital. She also helped start the convalescent nursing home at

Maunalani Heights and also Pohai Heights, understanding that the health plans in Hawaii

needed some assistance and new insight of their current workings. Through her many working

with the health care system and social services in Hawaii, it brought awareness to her from

around the world. Margaret was able to travel the world to share her knowledge and

experience she had of starting social services and new health initiatives in Hawaii. She traveled

to Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Egypt, Italy, Switzerland, France, England Scotland,

New Zealand, Australia and even back to the states in the United States. Through her travels

she met and reached out in those of authority to encourage better living environments of the

homeless, the conditions of the social services provided, government policies and even

advancements in educations and schooling of children.ii Margaret Mary was able to start a new

field of studies and education through her passion and early work in Hawaii, spreading and

teaching others of the lessons she learned from Hawaii. Miss Margaret Mary Louise Catton

influenced Hawaii in bringing a strong awareness to the social services and increasing the

knowledge and well-being of other in her community. Her passion was shown from an early

start in her younger college years until her retirement in 1948 at Queen’s Hospital. She still had

a strong desire to teach others and educate those around her of her journey and knowledge

collected through the years, so she wrote a semi-autobiography called “Social Services in

Hawaii”. While in retirement Margaret still stayed active in the community she helped pioneer

and create but passed away at the age of 89iii.

Margaret Mary Louise Catton was a woman who was able to exemplify her passions and

share it with the islands of Hawaii. She helped advance and create new programs in Hawaii to

better the community and improve the systems in place. Being raised on the islands, Scottish

was in her blood to have the passion and perseverance to influence Hawaii in the health care

and social service advancements made.

i Hackler, Rhoda E. The Story of Scots in Hawaii. Honolulu: Caledonian Society of Hawaii, 2000. (p110)

ii Catton (Family), Janet Renny Catton, Margaret Mary Louise Catton, Robert Catton, and Sangwan Mahidol. 1875. Catton family papers.

iii Hackler, Rhoda E. The Story of Scots in Hawaii. Honolulu: Caledonian Society of Hawaii, 2000. (p111)