Here is an article about The Father Of Social Work And The Other Key Figures in History, their contributions, and their inspiration to others.
Who are Some Important Figures in Social Work History?
In most cases, it’s impossible to quantify the societal impact of any single social worker’s efforts. We can all contribute to the campaign against underage alcohol and tobacco use, for example, but the outcome is measured in terms of overall campaign success (i.e., an overall reduction in underage drug users across the United States) – not an individual contribution. Every so often, however, a social worker comes along who transcends this humble anonymity by virtue of their massive, single-handed efforts to bring awareness to ignored problems.
What Makes a Social Work Key Figure?
History’s most notable social workers aren’t only revered because of their individual efforts, but their ability to inspire movements, such as the social security act, that persist long after they are gone. With that in mind, the following list is dedicated to five key social workers from history who created opportunities for change and to train social workers where there were few to none.
1. Jane Addams (1860 – 1935)
Considered by many to be the founder (or a co-founder) of modern social work itself and early social workers, Jane Addam’s name is permanently cemented in the history of social work. Her notoriety, however, is not simply a product of being one of the first to legitimize the field in direct social work practice. It was her tireless efforts for women, child laborers, the poor, the uneducated, immigrants, and the other under-served audiences within her surrounding community that earned her a permanent spot in the annals of social work history.
Jane Addams is most often credited with founding the first settlement home in the USA, known as Chicago’s Hull House, in 1889. The Hull House served as a center to educate and provide other services to the aforementioned demographics for a social service review. In addition to her work at the Hull house, she created and contributed to several initiatives designed to bring equality to these groups, such as 1916’s Federal Child Labor Law fair labor standards act. She joined hands with lobbyists, speaking publicly, marching and offering support for the Women’s Suffrage Movement, fair employment legislation, human relationships, the anti-war (WWI) movement, scientific principles, incorporate scientific principles, social welfare, urban sanitation reform, and much more. Jane Addams is even credited as a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that is now a blueprint. She was honored at the women’s international peace congress.
2. Alfred Neumann (1910 -2002)
One of the most timely and substantial contributions ever offered to the devastated families of persecuted Jews during and after the holocaust came in the form of Alfred Neumann and his organization, the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Colorado. The Austrian-born social worker, before he fled Nazi-occupied Vienna, was a key figure in their “demogration department,” which refers to a group that housed, protected, and advocated for fleeing Jewish families.
After coming to the United States and receiving his master’s in Social Work in 1941, Neumann began to work with Jewish family and children services agencies, first in Cleveland, then in Minneapolis. Eventually, he landed at the above-mentioned Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Colorado and stayed there as executive director from 1948 to 1976. Even after his “retirement,” Neumann continued to affect change on a high level, consulting for the Office of Economic Opportunity and Head Start programs, for which he trained many staff members and volunteers before his death.
3. Frances Feldman (1912-2008)
Heavily invested in the world of occupational social work, Frances Feldman devoted her career to studying the human experience from an occupational lens and making much-needed changes based on her findings. She was able to expose widespread discrimination against cancer survivors during the 1970s with an objective study that incited a permanent policy change. According to her findings, workplaces subjected cancer survivors to poor working conditions. As a result, many states changed their legislation to require fair working conditions for this demographic.
From 1934 to 1982, Frances Feldman worked in public welfare, family service, faculty counseling, and employee assistance programs. She published an ample body of work on the social and psychological significance of money, as well as works relating to specific fields and training information for educators and social workers. In addition to workplace equality and wealth distribution studies, her reports are regularly referenced to measure the significance of social events and human relationships as in the case of the Watts riots in the 1960s. Possibly her greatest accolade was the creation of credit counseling, an enterprise that now maintains roughly 300 branches across the US.
4. Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)
Born a year before emancipation as a slave, Ida B. Wells became a bridge for newly freed African Americans and early social workers throughout the south who, despite emancipation, continued to face many great injustices on personal and institutional levels. Wells lost her parents and a sibling to yellow fever as a 16-year-old student. She had to drop out of school (Rust College, which her father James Wells helped to create) to find work as a teacher and take care of the rest of her family. Once, while traveling by train, Wells was told to move to the “colored people” car, even though she had purchased a first-class ticket. Upon refusing, she was forcibly removed. She sued and won, but the case was overturned.
Ever since that day, Wells became very active in racial issues and social and psychological meanings throughout the south. She is credited as the first person to ever document the lynching of African Americans, an important part of her anti-lynching campaign. Also, Wells contributed to newspapers frequently, writing for notable publications of the day, like the New York Age, even presenting her anti-lynching campaign to President McKinley in hope of sparking reform. She was once targeted by a mob, who destroyed her equipment, but did not harm her. Later in life, Wells was instrumental in creating the National Association of Colored Women, the NAACP, the Alpha Suffrage Club, and more.
5. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
The very well-known protestor, lawyer, and nationalist have been given several other titles, but “social worker” is generally not among them. Considering the stand he took for Indian nationalism and civil rights, however, and his efforts for the poor and disenfranchised, his merit as a social worker is doubtless as well. Even before returning to India at the age of 45, Gandhi practiced his signature nonviolent protest while living and working in South Africa. After his return to India, he embarked on a campaign that would last until his assassination in 1948.
Gandhi fought peacefully to free the Indian people from British rule, engaging their oppressors on many fronts, such as when he urged his people to not contribute to the British involvement in World War II. He housed, taught, and advocated for countless poor throughout his life. Gandhi also negotiated with the British, who agreed to free political detainees. As both a peaceful protestor and lawyer, Gandhi was able to call for political reform and directly negotiate it with the British. His list of accomplishments is pages long, and he is called by many titles, but a social worker is as fair an assignment as any.
6. George Edmund Haynes
George Edmund Haynes was born on May 11, 1880, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He grew up in New York City after moving there with his mom and sister during what was referred to as the Great Migration and ended up living and working there most of his lifetime. Haynes became a federal civil servant after he was appointed in 1918 as the director of the division of Negro Economics in the Department of Labor that was created under the Woodrow Wilson administration.
It was part of an effort by the Democratic administration to create more support for black people after they had been disenfranchised by Democratic state governments in the Southern part of the United States at the turn of the 20th century. That meant that millions of them were without any political representation at all until Haynes was appointed to serve them. He was also one of the very first analysts to write about economics when it came to black labor and he eventually founded the Social Sciences Department of Fisk University. He was also the first African American to earn his doctorate degree from Columbia University in the field of sociology. He is referred to as an American scholar because he was one of the first people to write about black labor economics. Haynes was the co-founder of the academic-style magazine that published African-American literature and arts for more than 20 years. It was called the Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life. Haynes died on Jan. 8, 1960.
7. Harriet Rinaldo
Harriett Rinaldo was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1906 and grew up in the city of Wheaton, Illinois. She began attending Smith College in 1923 and graduated with honors in 1927. She continued on with her education and received a master’s degree in social science in 1929 after writing her thesis which was entitled, “The altering of family attitudes toward the child with prolonged illness as a causative factor of behavior problems : a study of fifty cases selected at the Institute for Child Guidance, New York City, from Child Guidance Clinic Records to weigh the importance as factors influencing behavior problems of prolonged illness on a child as compared to the effect of the illness in altering parental and siblings attitudes.”
Before her death in 1981, she worked as a social worker and was well known for creating personnel standards as well as rating procedures and recruitment policies for the Veterans Administration Social Work Service. Those standards and procedures she formulated became the model used by the federal government and other social work agencies to create their policies and procedures.
She was also the first to use the term clinical social work as a specialty standard in the field of social work which has its own personnel specifications. While working at the Veterans Administration, Rinaldo was able to recruit literally hundreds of social workers to help support medical services for veterans after World War Two. She was able to establish a variety of different job standards and definitions which later became the basis for civil service requirements for federal agencies as well as for local and state health-related programs.
8. Grace Coyle
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1914 from Wells Lake College, Grace Coyle obtained a certificate from the New York School of Philanthropy in 1915 before continuing on to earn her master’s degree in 1928 in the field of economics. In 1931, she earned a doctoral degree from Columbia University in the field of sociology. She is known for developing a scientific approach to group work practice that is still used today in teaching and writing experiences related to certain situations in the social work field. She also worked in settlement houses and at the YWCA from 1934 to 1962. She taught classes at the School of Applied Social Sciences at Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Those classes included the very first group work course that was ever taught at the university.
She became the president of the National Conference of Social Work in 1940 and eventually took the spot as president of the American Association of Social Workers in 1942. She headed up the council on social work education from 1950 to 1960 and her many writings included some prominent work in the field of social services, including Social Science in the Professional Education of Social Workers in 1958 and Group Experiences and Democratic Values in 1947. It is believed that all of her writings and speeches at these various institutions contributed to the overwhelming acceptance of group work in the field of social services. A collection of her manuscripts, as well as course outlines and correspondence, are located in the archives of Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio.
9. Helen Harris Perlman
Helen Harris Perlman is known for pioneering the “Chicago School” of social work. It was her belief that people experiencing crisis situations needed short-term solutions rather than a long-term form of Freudian analysis. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1926 and garnered several awards for her writing, even when she was still an undergraduate.
She eventually went on to work for the Jewish social service administration and, because of the stories from the people that she helped, she spent 18 years as a caseworker at a variety of institutions after she was inspired by them. He eventually earned a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University in 1943 and began teaching as a professor at the University of Chicago in 1945. She served on a variety of different editorial boards for an array of different publications and was honored in 1992 with a lifetime achievement award by the Council on Social Work Education.
10. John Myron Rockmore
John Myron Rockmore was born in 1913 and is considered to be yet another pioneer in the field of social work. He worked to develop and expand psychiatric social work practice and implemented it as an essential component in dealing with the many problems that were faced by those who fought in World War II and were experiencing mental health issues. He was also a very strong advocate to have a social work presence within the Connecticut mental health department.
He was known across the country as a leader in the field of psychiatric social work and a pioneer in the area of mental health services. After World War II, he became the chief of military psychiatric social work for the United States army in their mental hygiene unit. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his work and efforts to help veterans and was even a consultant for the Surgeon General of the United States Army at one point. He also helped determine policies for the expansion of military social work programs before he died in 2002.