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Founding Scholars Advisory Committee

These distinguished scholars worked with John E. Hansan to shape the original Social Welfare History Project that launched in 2010. Their expertise as researchers and educators helped create the conceptual framework for the site, along with the scholarly articles they contributed.


Allida Black, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Miller Center for Public Affairs. Black also serves as managing director of the Allenswood Group, LLC, a collaborative she founded to preserve and document women’s political history and strengthen democracy through education and civic engagement. She was formerly Research Professor of History and International Affairs at The George Washington University and Project Director and Editor of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, a project designed to preserve, teach and apply Eleanor Roosevelt’s writings and discussions of human rights and democratic politics. Professor Black is the recipient of the Millennium Medal from The George Washington University, the 2001 Person of Vision Award from the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women, and the James A. Jordan Award for Outstanding Dedication and Excellence in Teaching from Penn State University, Harrisburg. She has received the JNG Finley Postdoctoral Fellowship at George Mason University, a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as fellowships from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, the Harry Truman Foundation and the United States Information Agency. She received her Ph.D. from the George Washington University in 1993 and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from DePaul University in 2001.

Her publications include four books — Casting Her Own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of Postwar Liberalism(Columbia University Press, November 1995), “What I Want to LeaveBehind:” Democracy and the Selected Articles of Eleanor Roosevelt (Carlson Publishing, April 1995); Courage In A Dangerous World: The Political Writings of Eleanor Roosevelt (Columbia University Press, 1999), and with Jewel Fenzi, Democratic Women: An Oral History of the Women’s National Democratic Club (WNDC Educational Foundation, 2000) and as well as a variety of articles. In 2009, The First Ladies of the United States of America was published by the White House Historical Association.

Edward Berkowitz, Ph. D., Professor emeritus of History and Public Policy and Public Administration and former director of the Program in History and Public Policy, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. His areas of expertise include disability and social security. His most recent monograph, The Other Welfare: Supplemental Security Income and U.S. Social Policy, appeared with Cornell University Press in 2013. Other publications include: Robert Ball and the Politics of Social Security; America’s Welfare State: From Roosevelt to ReaganRehabilitation: The Federal Government’s Response to Disability; and Editor of Social Security After Fifty: Successes and Failures.

Christopher Brick is Director and Editor of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, a research center that collects, annotates, and publishes selected volumes of Eleanor Roosevelt’s political correspondence from 1945-1962. He holds a B.A. in History and International Affairs from The George Washington University, and an M.A. in History from Brown University, where he is currently completing his doctoral dissertation. Entitled “The Common Man’s Republic: A Cultural History of Anti-Elitism in the United States, 1930-1950,” his dissertation explores the history of class-based anti-elitism in mid-twentieth-century America, and documents the process that gradually shifted its emphasis away from social and economic elites and toward cultural and intellectual ones. His publications include Volumes 1 and 2 of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers: The Human Rights Years, both of which he co-edited, as senior editorial fellow and assistant editor respectively. Since 2009, he has served as a representative of the Northeast Region on the Membership Committee of the Organization of American Historians.

Harris Chaiklin, Ph.D. (d. 2015) was Professor emeritus at the University of Maryland School Of Social Work; and he has also been a Fulbright scholar and visiting professor at Haifa University School of Social Work. His teaching specialties centered on the social aspects of practice and research. His research interests were in practice relating to crime and delinquency, the family, poverty, health, and history. He published more than 60 articles and evaluation reports on these subjects, including: “The Elderly Disturbed Prisoner.” Clinical Gerontologist; “Needed: More Education for Social Work Practice in Criminal Justice” Journal of Law and Social Work; “Current and Prior Mental Health Treatment of Jail Inmates: The Use of the Jail as an Alternative Shelter” Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless; “Franklin Benjamin Sanborn: Human Services Innovator.” and “Research on Social Work Practice.”

Clarke A. Chambers (d. 2015), was a historian, educator, author, and founder of the Social Welfare History Archives at the University of Minnesota and author of Seedtime of Reform: American Social Service and Social Action, 1918-1933. Teaching at the University of Minnesota for his entire career, he pioneered the development of social welfare history within the graduate curriculum in both history and social work; he studied the development of the voluntary social welfare sector in the United States before many historians recognized it as a legitimate field for study and supported many other researchers in their work.

Larry W. Dewitt is the former public historian at the U. S. Social Security Administration. He was a Fellow at the Council for Excellence in Government during 1993–1994, and is a member of the Society for History in the Federal Government and the Organization of American Historians. A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 1998, Mr. DeWitt received his B.S. in psychology from Northern Arizona University and did graduate work in History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University. He completed his M.A. in Historical Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and is currently a doctoral student in Public Policy, also at UMBC. An author of numerous articles and essays, Mr. DeWitt is also the creator of, one of the largest history-related web sites in the federal government. In 2013 he published The Other Welfare. Supplemental Security Income and U.S. Social Policy with Edward D. Berkowitz.

Robert Fisher, Ph.D., is Professor of Social Work at the University of Connecticut. His areas of expertise are social history and community organization. His most recent books include Contesting Community: The Limits and Potential of Local Organizing (2010), with James DeFilippis and Eric Shragge; and an edited work, The People Shall Rule: ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice (2009). Prior works include Settlement Houses Under Siege: The Struggle to Sustain Community Organizations in New York City (2002) and Let The People Decide: Neighborhood Organizing in America (1994), Chinese language translation (2016).

Charles Garvin, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Social Work at the University of Michigan. He received his Master’s in Social Work (1951) and his Ph.D. (1968) from the University of Chicago. He worked as a group worker for Chapin Hall (Chicago)in 1951, Henry Booth House (Chicago) 1954-1956 and the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago (1956-1963). He was a Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan (1965-2002) where he taught group work as well as other courses. He is the author of 3 editions of the book Contemporary Group Work, as well as “Social Work in Contemporary Society” (with John Tropman) and “Interpersonal Practice in Social Work” (with Brett Seabury). He is the editor (with Lorraine Gutierrez and Maeda Galinsky) of the Handbook of Social Work with Groups and of Handbook of Direct Practice in Social Work (with Paula Allen Meares). He has written over 50 articles and book chapters, many of these on group work. In 2016 he published Social Work and Social Justice: Concepts, Challenges, and Strategies. Charles Garvin is a past president of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups and was the first president after that organization replaced the Committee for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups. He is a life member of the board of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups.

Linda Gordon, Ph.D., is a distinguished professor of history at New York University, New York, NY and recipient of many awards and honors. She is also a Fellow, Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, New York Public Library, 2004-05. Her areas of expertise include orphans and single mothers, Twentieth-century U.S. social, political, and social policy history. Linda Gordon’s books include: The Great Arizona Orphan AbductionWoman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America; and Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the Origins of Welfare which won the Berkshire Prize for best book in women’s history and the Gustavus Myers Human Rights Award. In 2009 Gordon published Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits, a study of the photographer Dorothea Lange and the political culture of the New Deal and World War II.

Ellen Herman, Ph.D., is Professor, Department of History University of Oregon. Dr. Herman is a historian of the modern United States who is especially interested in the human sciences, social engineering, and therapeutic culture. Her most recent book is Kinship by Design: A History of Adoption in the Modern United States (University of Chicago Press, 2008). Dr. Herman also designed and maintains the Web site: The Adoption History Project. Her Web site is devoted to making adoption history accessible and interesting to visitors who may not be aware that adoption has a history at all.  Her latest research project, “Autism, Between Risks and Rights” was supported in 2011-2012 by a Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

June Hopkins, Ph.D., is Professor of History at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, her M.P.A. from Pace University, her M.A. from California State University, Northridge, and her Ph.D. from Georgetown University. She specializes in U.S. social history with emphasis on welfare history, the Great Depression, and the New Deal. Her book, entitled Harry Hopkins: Sudden Hero, Brash Reformer, was published in February 1999. “Jewish, first wife, divorced”: The Correspondence of Ethel Gross and Harry Hopkins, a joint project with Allison Giffen, Assistant Professor of American Literature at New Mexico State University, was published in January 2003.

Michael B. Katz, Ph.D. (d. 2014), was Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History and a Research Associate in the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Katz’s work  focused on three major areas: the history of American education (The Irony of Early School Reform; Class, Bureaucracy, and Schools: The Illusion of Educational Change in America; Reconstructing American Education); the history of urban social structure and family organization (The People of Hamilton, Canada West: Family and Class in a Mid-Nineteenth Century; The Social Organization of Early Industrial Capitalism); and the history of social welfare and poverty (The Undeserving Poor: America’s Enduring Confrontations with Poverty; Poverty and Policy in American History; In the Shadow of the Poorhouse: A Social History of Welfare in America).

Alice Kessler-Harris, Ph.D. is the R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History, Columbia University, New York, NY. Professor Kessler-Harris specializes in the history of American labor and the comparative and interdisciplinary exploration of women and gender. Her published works include Women Have Always Worked: A Historical Overview; Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States; and A Woman’s Wage: Historical Meanings and Social Consequences. She is co-editor of Protecting Women: Labor Legislation in Europe, Australia, and the United States, 1880-1920; and U.S. History as Women’s History. Her newest book, In Pursuit of Equity: How Gender Shaped American Economic Citizenship won the Philip Taft Award for the best book in Labor History, the Bancroft Prize in History for 2001, and the American Historical Association 2002 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize.

David Klaassen was Curator/Archivist, of the Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries from 1975 until his retirement in 2011. Selected publications include: “The Archives of Social Welfare in the United States, in Paul Stuart and John Herrick, eds., Encyclopedia of Social Welfare History (Sage, 2004); “The Archives of Social Welfare,” in Richard L. Edwards, ed., Encyclopedia of Social Work , 19th ed. (Washington: NASW Press, 1995) 225-231; “The Archival Intersection: Cooperation Between Collecting Repositories and Nonprofit Organizations,” Midwestern Archivist 15:1 (1990): 25-38; “`The Deserving Poor’: Beginnings of Organized Charity in Minneapolis,” Hennepin County History 47:2 (Spring 1988): 15-25; “Achieving Balanced Documentation: Social Services from a Consumer Perspective,” Midwestern Archivist 11:1 (1986): 111-124.

Leslie Leighninger, D.S.W., is an Emerita Professor of Social Work at Arizona State University. Dr. Leighninger’s major areas of research include: Social Work and Social Welfare History, Social Welfare Policy, Women and Minority Issues. She has published books, articles and chapters on social policy of the New Deal, social work and public welfare policy in the 1960’s, women and minorities in social work, and radical social work movements in the 1930’s. Recent publications include: Social Work, Social Welfare, and American Society, 6th ed, 2005; The Policy-Based Profession: An Introduction to Social Welfare Policy for Social Workers, 4th edition (forthcoming, 2006); Social Work: Search for Identity (a history of professionalization in social work from the Progressive Era through the 1960’s).

Kriste Lindemeyer, Ph.D., is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences & the Graduate School, Rutgers-Camden, and a tenured position as Professor of History . Dr. Lindemeyer’s areas of expertise are childhood in the United States during the 20th Century and the U.S. Children’s Bureau. Her books include: The Greatest Generation Grows Up: Childhood in 1930sA Right to Childhood: The U.S. Children’s Bureau and Child Welfare, 1912-1946; as co-author with Joseph M. Hawes: Historical Overview of Children and Childhood in the United States During the 20th Century; and as Editor. Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives: Women in American History.

Jerry D. Marx, Ph.D., is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences & the Graduate School, Rutgers-Camden, and a tenured position as Professor of History . Dr. Lindemeyer’s areas of expertise are childhood in the United States during the 20th Century and the U.S. Children’s Bureau. Her books include: The Greatest Generation Grows Up: Childhood in 1930sA Right to Childhood: The U.S. Children’s Bureau and Child Welfare, 1912-1946; as co-author with Joseph M. Hawes: Historical Overview of Children and Childhood in the United States During the 20th Century; and as Editor. Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives: Women in American History.

Sonya Michel, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita, American Studies and History, University of Maryland. Her research areas include gender and social policy in the U.S. and in comparative perspective, and she is particularly interested in the relationship between the public and private sectors and social provision. Among her publications are Children’s Interests/Mothers’Rights: The Shaping of America’s Child Care PolicyMothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (co-edited with Seth Koven), and Child Care Policy at the Crossroads: Gender and Welfare State Restructuring (co-edited with Rianne Mahon). She is a founding co-editor of the journal Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society. From 2009-11, she served as Director of United States Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Wilma Peebles-Wilkins, Ph.D., is Dean Emeritus at Boston University and a former scholar at the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University. She served for several years as Dean, Boston University School of Social Work. Dr. Peebles-Wilkins has written and published extensively on the history of Blacks in American social welfare. Among her publications are: Janie Porter Barrett and the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls: Community Response to the Needs of African American ChildrenAfrican American Leadership in Social Welfare History: An Empowerment Tradition; and Twenty-one biographical essays on African Americans in the NASW Encyclopedia of Social Work. Dr. Peebles-Wilkins has more than 39 years of experience as a social work practitioner, administrator, and educator.

Patrick Selmi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of South Carolina, College of Social Work, Columbia, SC. Selected Publications in the history of social welfare include: Selmi, P. In Search of Social Change: Radicalism, Pragmatism, and the Development of American Social Work, 1889-1980 (under contract, Columbia University Press). Selmi, P., Hunter, R. Beyond the Rank and File Movement: Mary van Kleeck and Social Work Radicalism in the Great Depression, 1931-1942 (Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare). Young, D., & Selmi, P. Experiencing Social Work History: New York City as Case Study (Arete, in press). Farber, N. & Selmi, P. (eds). Classics in Social Work Theory and Practice. (under review, Lyceum Press). Selmi, P. Jane Addams, Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party Campaign of 1912 (in process).

David Stoesz, Ph.D., Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work and Executive Director, policyAmerica ( Selected publications: Quixote’s Ghost: The Right, the Liberati, and the Future of Social Policy; American Social Welfare Policy, 5th ed. (with H. Karger); A Poverty of Imagination: Bootstrap Capitalism, Sequel to Welfare Reform.

Paul H. Stuart, Ph.D., is Professor and Director of the School of Social Work, Florida International University, Miami. He is the co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Social Welfare History in North America (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005). His fields of interest include the history of social work and social welfare; federal Indian policy; his publications include: “Historical Research,” in Social Work Research and Evaluation: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, edited by Richard M. Grinnell, Jr., and Yvonne A. Unrau, 7th edition. (New York Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 329-338. John M. Herrick and Paul H. Stuart, eds., Encyclopedia of Social Welfare History in North America (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005); “Individualization and Prevention: Richard C. Cabot and Early Medical Social Work,” Social Work in Mental Health, vol. 2, no. 2/3 (2004), pp. 7-20; “Social Welfare and Rural People: From the Colonial Era to the Present,” in Rural Social Work: Building and Sustaining Community Assets, edited by T. Laine Scales and Calvin L. Streeter. (Belmont,CA: Books/Cole, 2004), pp.21-33; and “Linking Clients and Policy: Social Work’s Distinctive Contribution,” Social Work 44 (July 1999): 335-348.

Jake Terpstra, A.C.S.W. is a retired child welfare specialist. Mr. Terpstra graduated from Calvin College in Michigan and the University of Michigan school of social work. His employment in Michigan included two years as a county child welfare worker, two years as director of the Washtenaw county juvenile detention home, when he also was a court referee, four years as director of a private residential treatment program, and 13 years in State licensing of child welfare services, much of it as director of the Division of Child Welfare Licensing. During that time he was active in the Michigan Association of Children’s Agencies, including a term as president. With the deputy juvenile court administrator of the State Supreme Court he developed the state’s juvenile detention association, that later became national. In 1976 Mr. Terpstra was appointed as the licensing specialist for the U.S. Children’s Bureau. With staff reductions, the specialties of residential childcare and family foster care were added later to his responsibilities. He provided information and assistance to child welfare agencies in the states and some other countries. He wrote over 20 published articles. He retired in 1997, but continues to be active in child welfare activities, including serving on a child welfare committee of the Michigan chapter of NASW, and the editorial review boards of Residential Treatment For Children and Youth and the Journal of Public Child Welfare.

Betsy Schaefer Vourlekis, Ph.D. is professor emeritus of social work at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She received her B.A. from Harvard University, majoring in East Asian History, M.S.W. from Columbia University, and Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Maryland, College Park. She practiced psychiatric social work at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, DC, and was staff director for Health and Mental Health at the National Association of Social Workers prior to joining Maryland’s faculty in 1988. She served on the NIMH Task Force on Social Work Research (1988-1991) and chaired the follow-up National Implementation Committee (1991-1993). She was the project consultant and field researcher for the NASW Clinical Indicator Guideline project that developed quality improvement monitoring indicators for social work/psychosocial services in medical and psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care, dialysis centers, and home health agencies. She has worked extensively with health and mental health social work groups to design internal program evaluation tools that improve visibility and accountability for their practice. She was co-principle investigator on intervention research projects testing case management to improve adherence to diagnostic follow-up and adjuvant treatment in breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment, funded by the CDC and the NIH’s National Cancer Institute. Her historical research focuses on social work in the mental health arena.

Joan Oppenheimer Weiss, A.C.S.W., L.C.S.W., is an NASW Social Work Pioneer. Joan Weiss is a leader in the field of genetics and social work. During her career, spanning nearly four decades, she has been a very effective advocate for individuals with genetic disorders and her work and contributions are on the leading edge of genetic research. A leading spokesperson for the role of social work in the growing field of genetic research and education, Ms. Weiss has provided numerous lectures and workshops in the United States and Europe and has published several books in the field of genetics and social work.Ms. Weiss was a founder and first executive director of the Alliance of Genetic Support Groups, a major umbrella group for voluntary genetic organizations across the country. She also served as the co-director of the Human Genome Education Model (HuGEM) Project. HuGEM is an internationally recognized genetics education project for health professionals that seek to include consumers at all levels of policy, education, and research.

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