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Glenn, Mary Wilcox

Mrs. Glenn’s move to New York coincided with the growing awareness for the need for professional training for charity workers and the importance of trained caseworkers. It was also a time when social welfare advocates and charity workers were beginning to realize the necessity for more efficient organizations of “good will” and better means for dealing with the conditions of a society where large numbers of able-bodied workers were being compelled to seek handouts, depend on breadlines and soup kitchens. Mrs. Glenn became an active participant in discussions about the possibilities of a larger, national movement that would bring together local agencies and advocates into some form of national organization.Continue Reading »

Securing and Training Social Workers: 1911

This section meeting in 1911 describes in detail the progress of social welfare pioneers struggling to define social work and how it could be taught to aspiring students as well as current workers in social agencies and philanthropies. It also includes references to the evolutionary history of the social work profession. In one paragraph Miss Breckinridge says: “…In these meetings we are laying bare before the Conference the elementary stage at which our thought and our practice upon these points still rests. To be sure, a review of the past decade convinces the observer that real progress has been made. In 1897, fourteen years ago, at Toronto, Miss Richmond made her notable statement before the Conference regarding the desirability of establishing professional schools. In 1901, four years later, Dr. Brackett reported somewhat at length upon the establishment of the Summer School for Philanthropic Workers, established by the New York Charity Organization Society….Today the New York Summer School for Philanthropic Workers has lost itself in the New York “School of Philanthropy” conducted by the Charity Organization Society of the City of New York and affiliated with Columbia University, whose purpose is “to fit men and women for social service in either professional or volunteer work.” The Boston School for Social Workers maintained by Simmons College and Harvard University, established in 1904, has completed its seventh year of successful educational work. The Chicago Institute for Social Service has become the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, and may be reported as established on a safe pecuniary and a sound educational basis. The St. Louis School of Social Economy, affiliated with Washington University, starting in 1901-2 as a series of Round Table meetings of workers, has passed beyond the experimental stage and has just completed its sixth year of full academic quality and amount….”Continue Reading »

The Individual Approach: 1915

Mrs. Glenn was a close friend and colleague of Mary Richmond and one of the influential voices in support of casework and social work education. In this 1915 presentation she describes her vision of a sensitive and helpful caseworker. One of the paragraphs states: “…The worker’s effort is futile unless the individual to be aided become first a co-worker and then pass on to take the lead in carrying through any plan made in his behalf. The worker, whose aim is to rehabilitate men, must be one whose preparation for the task has carried him deep in a considering of human life lived in simplicity and in close relation to those who earn their daily bread. The study of recuperative power must lead the worker back to gauge the mainsprings of strength that lie hid in the individual’s past. But there must be more than the harking back, there must be the readiness to take a forward leap, He is not what he may become, is the attitude of mind which gives the power to stir men to be twice made, and it is faith in one’s fellow which gives the power to make men make themselves. An intense desire to see life well lived makes a worker, with tender, with restrained devotion, care to see the “downmost man” come through his wracking experience actually on top….Continue Reading »

Wilson, Gertrude

Gertrude Wilson was a social group worker and educator. After working in group practice at YWCA’s in various cities (1922-1935), she began teaching group work. In 1935 Gertrude Wilson became an Assistant Professor at Western Reserve University’s School of Applied Social Sciences. In 1938 she became a Professor and later an Associate Dean in the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh (1938-1950). In 1951, she accepted a position as Professor and head of the Social Welfare Extension program at the University of California at Berkeley (1951-1963). She also served as a visiting faculty member at schools around the United States and in Canada. After her retirement, she continued to consult with the Social Services Department of the City and County of San Francisco and wrote papers on the topic of group practice within both psychiatric and community settings.Continue Reading »

Social Group Work Theory and Practice

Professor Gertrude Wilson contributed significantly to the establishment of social group work within social work in the United States. Through national research and numerous publications, Professor Wilson was able to demonstrate and describe the relationship between group work and case work. She demonstrated that they draw upon many of the same basic concepts from the behavioral sciences as well as from socio-psychological sources; and that there were key common skills. She argued that group work was a process through which group life was influenced by a worker who directed the process toward the accomplishment of a social goal conceived in a democratic philosophyContinue Reading »

Wright, Helen R.

Helen Russell Wright was a pioneer social researcher, economist, and social work educator. She was the first president of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). She also had the formidable task of becoming dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Chicago in1941, a position she held until 1956. Following in the footsteps Edith Abbott, Grace Abbott and Sophonisba Breckenridge she became an important transitional figure in the emerging profession of social work, one who often went against the then current trends by advocating for social reform supported by research as opposed to the total emphasis on the primacy of casework within the profession.Continue Reading »

What is Professional Social Work?

Social work does not consist of maintaining any social activity which has become standard and permanent. Social workers are continually originating certain activities and vindicating them and making them standard and permanent but after they have reached that stage they are not rated as social work. At one point kindergartens which are now a regular part of our educational system were promoted and maintained as social work. Some activities that are more or less permanent and standardized in regard to their procedure such as the relief work of old family welfare societies are nevertheless exceptional activities because the circumstances of the different individuals require and receive special treatment in each case. Even relief giving may pass out of the realm of social work if it is put on the basis of flat pensions and paid for out of taxation, as in the case of soldier’s pensions; or if pensions are given as a part of a fixed policy of a big corporation toward its employees, there is no reason to class the administration of these pensions as social work. Continue Reading »

Family Service of Philadelphia

At the latter end of the depression, the Quaker community had begun working with professionals in hopes of better organizing their aid to the disadvantaged. In 1879, the contact between the groups culminated in the Philadelphia Society for Organizing Charitable Relief and Repressing Mendicancy (SOC), which later became known as Family Service of Philadelphia. Within two years, SOC had 9,000 contributors.Continue Reading »

Robinson, Virginia Pollard

To a degree rare in social work education her view of her tasks was marked by a sustained interest in and respect for the field of social work practice, while at the same time she maintained a scholarly perspective upon the field as a rich source for study, learning and teaching. Even more significantly for the School, the nature of Robinson’s interest in social work as related to professional education suggested methods of interchange and patterns of relationship between classroom and field work which have proven steadily fruitful through the years and remain widely recognized as effective in preparing the student both in comprehension of his task and in be- ginning competence in practice.Continue Reading »

The Functional School of Social Work

The turning point in the use of psychology by social workers was the publication, in 1930, of Virginia Robinson’s A Changing Psychology in Social Work. Robinson’s book crystallized the growing discontent many social workers felt with the old, paternalistic models and proposed a new way to synthesize the individual personality and the social environment. Heavily influenced by the psychiatric theories of Otto Rank, Robinson proposed that case work should focus not on planning for the social welfare of the client, not on the client per se (or the environment per se), but on the relationship between the client and the social worker. The client, not the social worker, should be the central actor in the casework drama; the social worker – client relationship was intended to strengthen the client. …Continue Reading »

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