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NCSW: Report of 1946 Conference

Milestones in Professional Progress: A report of the 1946 National Conference of Social Welfare

by Marion Robinson and Bradley Buell in the Survey Midmonthly

Someone dubbed it the “hell and high water conference” for, in spite of a tight housing situation, strikes and rumors of strikes, heavy work loads and staff shortages, forty-five hundred delegates made their way to the registration desk in Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium during the week of May 19 to 26 and got their tickets to the 73rd annual meeting of the National Conference of Social Work.  Most of all 180 meetings went on as scheduled.  All but a handful of the 600-odd speakers, discussants, discussion leaders, and presiding officers appeared on the dot when the curtain went up for their particular performances.

The convention housing bureau had had to turn down twenty-four hundred people who wrote for reservations after all hotel space has been filled.  Some refused to be disappointed and coming in on a wing and a prayer, were hastily placed in private homes, or found themselves commuting from outlying towns.

Less than a thousand people had reached Buffalo by 8:30 Sunday night when Dr.  Ellen C.  Potter declared the first session open.  Many of the fifteen hundred who registered the next morning had been delayed from twelve to twenty-four hours by the near-miss railroad strike of the day before.  Five days later, when the strike really came, delegates quickly began chartering taxis and buses and swapping information bout ways to get home.  The first boat trip of the season from Buffalo to Detroit carried 600 social workers, most of whom had useless railroad tickets in their pockets.  At the Conference headquarters an impromptu car pool service was started but, after a hectic day, it was replaced by a bulletin board which was soon snowed under with notices hastily scrawled on torn-out sheets of notebook paper:  “Wanted, ride to Chicago,” and with a bold afterthought, “or Omaha”; or “Will join in renting taxi to Muskegon.”

In the midst of the every-man-for-himself-and-three-other-people chaos, the real significance of the strike itself came in for plenty of informal discussion, and intent groups sitting in lobbies, taxis, hotel rooms, listened to both of President Truman’s broadcasts.

All in all, the Conference delegates took things in their stride.  Most people were not to be deflected from their definite purpose in coming.  Although superficially many seemed to be shopping around for staff, ideas and opportunities to meet old friends, there was, underneath, a strong sense of direction.

These were people who for four years had been deeply involved in many aspects of the war on the home front and abroad.  Many had been picked up from traditional social work settings to ply their trade in strange fields to work under new circumstances with other specialists whose ideas, purpose and lingo were foreign to them.

But the atmosphere was not one of mere experience-swapping.  For this was a very professional Conference, with much of the discussion Conference, with much of the discussion dominated by questions of processes, method, function, training.  Human needs and problems, social movements, and preoccupations with the fields of work of vast institution centered interests, had a fair place in all of the section and associate group meetings.  But the yeast of professional issues which underlie larger goals and their organizational manifestations was a ferment which continually bubbled around them.

It was also a Conference of practitioners.  Outstanding leaders were there but they did not give color to the Conference as in days gone by.  As one “old-timer” put it:  “When Jane Addams came to the National Conference thousands of social workers would flock to her meeting.  Dr.  Richard C.  Cabot, Graham Taylor, Mary Richmond, and others had a similar role.  We have good leadership at present but there are no figures quite comparable today.”

Evidence of the practitioner-and-professional motif was apparent on many fronts.  It put in an early appearance at the “successful and harmonious” delegate conference of the American Association of Social Workers held for the three days preceding the national meeting.  Celebrating its 25th anniversary, complete with greetings and good wishes from President Truman, this group passed resolutions calling for, among other things, a committee to formulate a code of ethics for the profession of social work; endorsement of the National Health Act, the Public Welfare Act of 1946, and the “general purpose, principles and philosophy” of the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill; and the establishment of a permanent international social welfare agency.  The sessions ended with one of the real ovations of the Conference to Mrs.  Irene Farnham Conrad, outgoing AASW president, for her “outstanding leadership.”

Less tangible evidence that the social work profession is growing up could be found in the absence of much of the defensiveness about “specialties” which has characterized social work meetings of the past decade, and appears to have been replaced by a willingness to be social workers first and specialists second.  Some meetings, particularly of  the sections on administration, community organization, and social action, were almost “general meetings” as far as the representative character of the audiences was concerned.

The matter of fact acceptance of social action responsibility serve to illustrate the trend toward integration and unity.  There was less “whooping it up” on this question than at some prior Conferences, but papers and discussions in almost every section showed clearly that social work was up to its neck in active work for legislation in the fields of security, health, mental health, child welfare, and the like.  The meetings of the new social action section were well attended, and audience participation was abundant here as well as at the special meetings of the Joint Committee of Trade Unions in Social Work and the National CIO Community Services Committee.  The focus was on “the common welfare” and practitioners of all kinds freely exchanged ideas about ways and means.

Whether it be cause or effect, the contributing influence of training school leadership had much to do with the tone and emphasis.  The fact that this is not a happenstance but that it represents a trend can be seen from the Conference’s presidential succession- this year Kenneth L.  M.  Pray, dean of the Pennsylvania School; next year Arliean Johnson, dean of the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Southern California; and presumably in 1948, Leonard W.  Mayo, dean of the School of Applied Social Sciences, Western Reserve University.  At this Conference forty faculty members from graduate schools of social work gave papers, many of them “keynote” addresses, led discussions, or acted as discussants.  Half of this year’s section chairman came from school faculties.

Consequently, the Conference took on a strong “going to school” flavor, which seemed to do much toward filling the obvious need for taking stock, catching up, restating old principles and evolving new ones, in as thoughtful, scientific a way as possible.

It was not a one-way process, however, for “stock-taking” papers were applauded by large numbers of very vocal rank and file practitioners, who matter-of-factly waded into the question of how to make the most of the stock on hand.

The reverse side of the picture is that the “institution centered” interests in social work did not use the  Conference as a means to express the immediate and practical concerns, has always been the case for blocks of the broad fields of welfare, health and recreation.  The Congress of Correction, the Recreation Congress, the meetings of the American Public Health Association, are forums which draw administrated executives, and practitioners from the fields in large and representative numbers.  Something of the same “private away” from the Conference as a practical device for annual meetings, and the discussion of current operation issues, seems to be happening in a respect to such movements a public welfare, community chests (few of who executives were this year in attendance), the Red Cross, and other recreational agencies in large and far flung constituencies.

National executives where there, but – as always-in conference and consultation, and the rank and file from their constituencies were there, in some instances in large numbers.  But, if one may hazard an impression that one painstaking research could validate, significant proportion of those who did come were not there primarily to look after their daily bread and butter.  They were there because of their interest in the new interrelated qualities of social work, or because they were possessed by a sense of social work growing professional stature.

Wide Horizons

Chronologically, the Conference goes off to a successful if slow start on Sunday evening, when Dr.  Ellen C.  Potter, the outgoing president who had been robbed on her own right to a distinguished audience by last year’s wartime convention ban, introduced Kenneth L.  M.  Pray, this year’s Conference president and keynote speaker.

Mr.  Pray, taking as his theme “Social Work in a Revolutionary Age” immediately put the delegates at case by saying that the social revolution sweeping the globe is creating “ the kind of world in which modern social work can feel truly at home.”  We are seeking “ the ending of one great in human affairs and the beginning another,”  the synthesis of which repudiation of force as a dominant and the acceptance of operation in its place.  Only in of world, he said, can social achieve its simple objective of human beings find the opportunity the incentive to make the most of themselves and …the largest contribution to the progress and well-being of the whole society.”

To be amplified in many later sessions was his denial of the idea that social work is chiefly concerned with helping “the other half.”  Social work today deals with problems that are common to all people-the universal and inevitable outcome of social living.  This essential function of social work, to deal with problems of human relationships, is so close to the core of all our greatest problems, that now is the time for social work to tell what it knows about the meanings and values of these relationships.

In relating this basic function to the solution of underlying economic and social problems, Mr.  Pray stuck a middle course.  Economic breakdown is probably the greatest single cause of the confusion and conflict which is social work’s daily business, he said, and the responsibility of social workers here “is certainly something more than merely to repair the economic damages and deficiencies which our clients bring to us.”  On the other hand, he added, “it is certainly something less than to lay our or support a complete set of specifications for a complete and perfect social system.”

Complementing Mr.  Pray’s view of “wide horizons,” Max Lerner of the editorial staff of PM, at the last general session chose as his subject, “Toward an American Society.”  Hammering away at the cleavages between our democratic theory and our actual behavior, Mr.  Lerner said that the technical and moral crisis of our time is due to the discovery of “the final weapon for annihilation,”  before we had moved far enough along the road of human development.  We have had enough experience in developing a quantitative philosophy, said Mr.  Lerner, and now we must begin to develop a qualitative one.  This means re-channeling our natural human aggression the broader building of “a sense of society, based on the kinship between me,” for our internal shortcomings have international meanings.

Mr.  Lerner’s emphasis on cleaning up the American backyard in preparation for international responsibility was carried a step further by Dr.  G.  Brock Chishol, Canada’s deputy minister of health and welfare, who, in another general session, posed the question, “Can Society Keep Pace With Science?”

Dr.  Chisholm placed responsibility for survival of mankind squarely on the shoulders of the individual, especially those who are parents.  The quality of our democracy depends upon our degree of emotional maturity, but we cannot rate this very high if one considers the extent to which we engage in “superstitious practices,” such as fortune telling, tea-leaf reading, and the many unreasonable traditions followed by certain groups.  Dr.  Chisholm labeled these with the phrase, “expensive magic,” by which, he said, we are “trying to buy back…some of the security stolen during childhood by guilt and fear.”

In one of the most telling speeches of the Conference, Dr.  Chisholm made the plea that children be set free from the system of taboos and “poisonous certainties” which seem always to be imposed on each generation by the previous one, and that we cast off fear of “difference” and learn to look upon “the local customs of India, Russia, Tibet-and Buffalo,” as “variant experiments in living.”

The children’s natural intellectual integrity should be maintained undistorted, he said, and this can be done only by taking drastic action.  This he put into one sentence:  “Stop lying to our children.”  Parents who think they are protecting their children from the harsh realities of living, are really forcing them to face the unbearable conflict between losing trust in their parents or being confused about the realities they come up against- a conflict which shuts off the child’s ability to think for himself.

At still another evening meeting, the human problems on the horizon of our sister democracy were pointed out by B.  E.  Astburry, O.B.E., general secretary of the Family Welfare Association of London.  “The traditional English home and family life have been a major casualty of war,” he said.  “Side by side with the splendid heroism and sacrificial service of the war has been a marked deterioration in social standards.”  One could readily understand why, as he painted the picture of four million out of eleven and one half million home destroyed or damaged by enemy action; of four and five-years separations of husbands and wives; of large scale evacuation of children and families; of the extraordinary concentration of troops from all nations in Britain’s islands.

Despite all this, he reported, Great Britain is moving forward toward a new program of security based on the Beveridge report, and is “passing from a reactionary phase to a recognition that the relationships within the family group represent the only foundation for an emotionally stable personality and for a secure social order.

Some of the “oldsters” at Buffalo must have sensed the spirit of Mary Richmond hovering over much of the Conference’s intellectual interplay.  The trend which she started years ago by painstakingly carving out the processes of social casework, of systematically documenting the materials and knowledge essential to the application of these processes, has now moved far beyond the scope of that early effort to “better organize charity.”  But its motivation is just the same- to perfect the tools of the practitioner and to build up a body of knowledge which can be used for training and professional development.

Since those early years the meetings of social caseworkers have been increasingly dominated by discussions of “how we do what we do-and why.”  Not so long ago, groupwork leaders began to cast envious eyes upon this central factors in casework progress, and this year Buffalo seemed to mark the birth of efforts to place this stamp of professional respectability upon administrators and community organizers, too.

Certainly, not all of the papers presented at the Conference sections on casework, groupwork, administration, and community organization hewed to Mary Richmond’s line; it was not intended that they should.  Papers in all sections and group meetings ran the whole gamut of techniques, problems, organization, broad objectives, and just plain description of “this is what we did.”  The six hundred speakers talked about what they wanted to talk about.  But at one point or another, a lot of them wanted to talk, it seemed, about the tools of their profession, and the advances made in wartime years in sharpening these tools, changing concepts in professional methodology and philosophy, technological fronts that need to be studied and captured.


On Monday morning, Annette Garrett, associate director of the Smith College School of Social Work, before a large audience in the auditorium arena, set the stage for casework’s week stocktaking.

Miss Garrett traced the development of casework skills from their early used for the alleviation of poverty, to the first World War which stimulated recognition of emotional problems and the wider applicability of these skills to all economic classes.  Retarded somewhat by the relief preoccupations of the depression years, casework by the late Thirties had begun to consolidate its paralleling objective and subjective approaches by emphasis on generic casework.  World War II has brought concern with the emotional adjustment problems of people, rather than with economic needs; a rapid spread in the use of caseworkers in the military forces, selective service, industry, hospitals, rehabilitation camps, schools, and many other units; and the rise of counseling “which has for many, vague implications which seem remote from casework practice.”

The two great questions now confronting casework, according to Miss Garrett, are first, whether casework can match the quantitative advancement of the war years by equal progress in the quality of its skills, methods, and scientific knowledge; and second, whether it can resolve the conflict between the concept of universal casework method, the concept of specialization.  The danger, Miss Garrett warns, is that the limited caseworker approach of organizations which do not serve the whole person, will result in a dilution which will be a threat to casework’s professional capacity.  Through there are undoubtedly advantages in specialization- if based on thorough knowledge of fundamentals- it is likely to result in rigidity and limited treatment skills, unless it sis carried out through generic procedures.

These dangers of dilution and over-specialization must be overcome by self-discipline within the professional group itself, Miss Garrett felt, if communities are to be convinced of casework’s intrinsic function and value.

Subsequent meetings of both the casework section and associate groups brought amplification, support, and what might even be interpreted as opposition to Miss Garrett’s synthesis of the assets and liabilities in current casework practices.  In a joint meeting of the casework and mental hygiene sections on wartime experience in casework practice, Ethel S.  Wannamacher, Red Cross supervisor at the Valley Forge Hospital, stressed the fact that a huge amount of work was accomplished under wartime pressures and that traditionally difficult problems had to be worked out fast.  But she also noted that in the slump following the end of the war, workers with good professional training, and a professional stake in their jobs, puled themselves together more quickly, while the inexperienced and untrained workers had less to fall back on.

Mary Houk, of Indiana University, testified that the Travelers Aid experience on USO jobs in small towns had reinforced faith in the generic base for training personnel.

Lieutenant Colonel Daniel E.  O’Keefe, now with the Veteran Administration, came to this same program with the distinction of being the first to the assigned the famous “263” classification, which in October 1943 officially established a social work branch in the Surgeon General’s office.  His task as chief of this branch has been to build up a staff of 700 men and women assigned to army casework, and he particularly stressed the opportunity which the military setting had given them to recognition and status to their profession.

On the other hand, he agreed, social work in the army did develop primarily as a service to psychiatry.  Social workers did intake studies and made reports in which they did not discuss symptoms but passed on information about them for use by the psychiatrists,”  he said, “one hearts of the great value they place on services of social workers.  Many are frank to say they had never used them before.”

Social Workers and Psychiatrist

The question of the social worker’s relation to the psychiatrist was also discussed during a session of the mental hygiene section.  Saul Hofstein, Jewish Community Service, Jamaica, N.  Y., out of his experience as a psychiatric social workers and clinical psychologist in the army, felt that the psychiatric social worker’s job had to be limited and should not include responsibility for treatment.

Imogene S.  Young, psychiatric social work consultant for the National Red Cross Military and Naval Service however, said that army psychiatrists, in the pressure of work, had taken it for granted that a trained psychiatric worker could handle treatment.  Many Red Cross workers did so, and acquired a great deal of skill.  Support for her point of view that the line of demarcation between the jobs of the psychiatrist and social workers need to be too clearly defined came from Bertram Beck, formerly with an army mental hygiene unit and now on the staff of the Community Service Society of New York.

Grace Marcus, district supervisor in Baltimore’s department of public welfare, felt that the psychiatric social worker’s job was so important that “we had better concentrate on doing it well, and leave therapy to the psychiatrists.”


Miss Garrett’s initial reference to counseling and its direct or indirect relation to casework development was taken from many point of view and in number of different settings.  In a meeting on “Getting People and Services Together,” scheduled by the community organization section, Elizabeth Evans, caseworker in the thirty-year-old social service office of Macy’s Department Store in New York City, described her service as limited to making prompt diagnosis, emergency treatment when indicated, and referral to specialist for continued care when necessary.

Counseling under union auspices was described by Johannes U.  Hoeber, CIO staff representative for the Philadelphia Community Chest, as a war baby, growing out of needs of millions of workers in new localities, struggling with complications of housing, child care, shopping and rationing, and illness.

Robert Levin, of CIO’s community service committee, in a meeting sponsored by the section on administration, made it clear that the development of a union counseling program in CIO did not signify any intention of going into the field of social work professionally.  Rather, he said, the program is based on labor’s belief that agencies must be effectively related to the constituencies they serve; and the CIO was setting up machinery and training personnel for that purpose.

Use of Authority

A problem that is troubling a good many caseworkers pooped up not only the casework section but in several other meetings where skilled and methods came in for critical evaluation:  how to sue in the best interest of the client, the legal or other authority which is carried by the professional workers in protective work, probation service, public welfare, and so on.

A thoughtful paper on this subject was given in a public welfare section by Karl de Schweinitze, director of the committee on education and social security of the American Council on Education.  Prepared in collaboration with Elizabeth de Schweinitz, consultant on training for Washington, D.C., department of welfare, his paper dealt in broad philosophical terms with the place of authority in the protective function of the public welfare agency.

Quoting Porter Lee’s distinction between the authority which goes with status and the authority which derives from experience, wisdom and understanding. Mr.  de Schweinitz pointed out that today the public no longer supports the wholesale powers of constituted authority which characterized the beginnings of the movement to protect children.  Inherent authority, hitherto merely role, has now become a necessity.

The nature of this inherent authority, said Mr.  de Schweinitz, stems not from a worker’s legal or official status but from his understanding of the law and of community resources; from an impersonal, considerate professional attitude which goes with an acceptance of this constituted authority; from the capacity to ascertain and evaluate facts and weigh the evidence and decide; from his capacity to distinguish between what is or is not possible and to deal with the individual on that basis.

Tom Coleman, on the basis of his experience in the psychiatric clinic of Manhattan Children’s Court, also explored this question in a casework session when he read a paper of psychiatric treatment of children in an authoritative setting.

“The pitfall in the use of authority,”  said Mr.  Coleman, “seems to be when the individual using its has a need for such authority to satisfy his own neurotic drives.”  He felt that authority was the realistic handling of probation status with both the youngster and his parents-and that it could help a young person prepare “for better acceptance of the restrictions imposed by society.”

The need for development of skills, as well as more trained personnel, in the field of protective services was emphasized by William W.  Burket, of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, when he gave a paper which dealt with protecting standards of child welfare services under public auspices, at a meeting of the public welfare section.  This field has been neglected, he said, and the literature on skill sin handling neglect cases, under whatever administrative auspices, is very meager.

In a different setting, Dorothy Hutchinson, of the New York School of Social Work, discussed the process by which the caseworker helps the unmarried mother make up her mind about placement for her child.  At an overflow meeting up under the auspices of the Child Welfare League of America, Miss Hutchinson said that in keeping with democratic process, it has been the custom to encourage the mother to make her own decision without undue influence from the worker.  She questioned the realism of this idea “if applied in wholesale fashion to any large number of unmarried mothers.”  The majority of these mothers are unable to make their own independent decision, for “the unmarried mother is and unmarried mother in many cases because she has already lacked proficiency in making decisions on a rational basis.”  She urged the caseworkers take responsibility not only for guidance in making such decisions but for helping the unmarried mother to find a life for herself.

From Other Fields

That caseworkers are alert to experience in other fields which can be adapted to their own use was evident in a number of meetings.  At this same session of the Child Welfare, League of America, Ruth Brenner, Fee Synagogue Child Adoption Committee, brought out the importance of selecting adoptive parents only after consultation with their family doctor.  This agency does not accept an application if the doctor feels that there is a reasonable chance of the couple’s having children of their own.

Miss Brenner brought out two important facts:  first, that the unconscious motivation for the adoption of a baby is by far the most important element in the future success of the child’s welfare; and second, that one of the factors to be thoroughly examined is whether an applying couple faces sterility as an organic or psychogenic factor.

Recent trends in the use of psychoanalytical concepts of casework were reviewed by Alice L.  Voiland and Marth Lou Gundelach,  both in the family service bureau of the United Charities of Chicago, in one of the meetings of the Family Welfare Association of America.  Miss Voiland warned that, while the patient in the psychoanalytic situation consents to disclose his innermost feelings, the average client comes to the social agency with very different feelings.  Thus, she said, a first principle is “to meet the client on his own ground” and “treat him as an emotionally health person until he proves otherwise.”

The workers must be alert to discrepancies in either facts or feelings which may reveal unrealistic responses or areas of conflict and must put together facts and impressions as early as possible in a tentative formulation of what the difficulty is and what direction treatment should take.


What Grace Coyle characterized as the “astonishing vitality” of the groupwork profession, at the 10th anniversary dinner for the Study of Group Work, was an easily discernible force during the Conference week.  Many of the thirteen sessions of the groupwork section and six afternoon meetings of AASGW, indicated the rapid spread of the groupwork method into many different fields.  Varied wartime experience mingled with longer established practice to become the stuff out of which was hammered more clearly defined concepts of what groupwork is from whence it comes, and whither it goes.

A new quality of professional consciousness dominated the discussions.  This was partly due to the fact that, by vote of the membership, the AASGW now becomes the American Association of Group Workers, a full-fledged professional organization rather than a study organization; and questions of major importance paralleled the metamorphosis.

In a session of the AAGW on professional education for groupworkers, Gertrude Wilson, professor of groupwork at the School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, stressed the necessity of giving the worker understanding of himself which he could use consciously to help others.  An undue amount of instruction in the vocational skills, she felt, endangers the real purpose of the professional education.  Admitting that “it is difficult to define the contents of a professional education for an occupation, the members of which are undecided and ambivalent as to their professional identification,” she urged firsthand study of groupwork practices to bring out basic functions and the knowledge and skills need, since “the roots of the profession are in practice.”

Whether groupwork is mere closely related to the field of social work or that of education was another question which perplexed many.  It was pointed out during one discussion that much of the philosophy of groupwork came from the field of education, through such exponents as Dewey and Kilpatrick.  Dorothea Sullivan, director of groupwork at the National Catholic School of Social Work, suggested that groupwork could be rooted in both, just as there are mixed sciences, like bio-chemistry or mathematical physics.

Groupwork as a Method

Groupworkers, also, are still struggling to decide just what their chosen profession is – field, function, or method.  Miss Wilson reminded her audience that as long as 1939, a special association committee had decided that groupwork was a method.  She felt, however, that use of such phrases as “groupwork agencies” and “groupwork divisions,” indicating “an unconscious desire to have groupwork be all-embracing and all-inclusive,” had somewhat distorted the idea.

This concept of method was underscored by Grace Coyle at the opening session of the groupwork section when she discussed “the confusion between the field of recreation and the methods used by workers in this field.”

The groupwork method came into use in recreation, she said, “as we began to see that understanding and use of human relations involved were as important as the understanding and use of various types of programs.”  Use of groupwork methods help to increase people’s enjoyment of recreation, especially those who are blocked by personal difficulties and, as a result, individuals are encouraged toward creative rather than imitative expression.

Complementing Miss Coyle’s interpretation was a thoughtful discussion of the use of recreational or program activities as a men of helping individual meet personal and social needs.  Gladys Rylands, assistant professor of the School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, discussed five types of leisure time programs: discussion, game and sports, crafts, dramatics, dancing.  Each one of these offers special opportunities which the groupworker can use in helping people resolve different kinds of personality and social difficulties.  “Discussion” in a business meeting, for example, serves as a forum for the expression of social attitudes.  People must have certain personality qualifications to learn to “play together.”  Crafts require the use of hands and produce a sense of achievement.  Singing is a good device for bringing different cultural groups together.

Experiments with the group method on a highly specialized level were discussed by Gisela Konopka, groupworker in the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Center, and Fritz Redl, professor of public affairs and social work at Wayne University.  Many practitioners are leery about putting groupwork methods to this use, said Mr.  Redl, but others are developing a “bandwagon” complex on the subject.  He stressed the importance of critical analysis of method and material, and developing “clinical tolerance.”  For example, the problem of contagion- when one person is the group under treatment makes the others harder to handle- in a “peculiar phenomenon” which requires much more study.  Mr.  Redl is also working on problems of grouping.  In his work with young people, he first found that attitudes toward adults, and “personality allergies” which involve the problem of how deep the roots of superficial behavior go, are two important criteria for grouping.

The role of the group leader or therapist, according to Miss Konopka involves gradually bringing the members of the group closer together while the leader himself recedes more and more into the background.


The old debatable question of when the groupworker should refer individuals to caseworker or other specialist was discussed by Bert Gold, assistant professor of social groupwork at the School of Social Work in Toronto, Canada.

“Our focus,” said Mr.  Gold, “ought not be on having caseworkers to casework in our agencies, or group workers to do casework…but upon having groupworkers who are sensitive to behavior, diagnostically oriented, able to use the interview, possessed of a knowledge of community resources, and capable of making a referral in a setting where the….organization enables the worker to carry out his function.”

The successful combination of individual counseling and group activity as a treatment method for psychiatric casualties in a military setting was reported on by Abraham Novick, assistant superintendent of the State Agricultural and Industrial School in New York.

Basing his remarks on his experience as an army psychiatric social worker, Mr.  Novick said that breakdown of the soldiers usually meant loss of “social qualities.”  Concurrently with individual treatment, therefore, the staff planned activities for groups of not more than twenty patients.  Discussion helped release resentments and feelings of frustration and persecution.

In these and other experimental areas, the current trend is toward more careful research and a more scientific approach to the development of practice.  Early in the week a report on current research was given by Alvin F.  Zander, assistant professor of psychology at Springfield College, and the trend was illustrated in a paper by Helen D.  Green, of the American Service Institute of Pittsburgh, at a joint session of the groupwork section and the AAGW.

Miss Green cited the findings of the Yankee City Series by Professor Lloyd Warner and his staff as the kind of scientific data with which groupworkers must be familiar in order to work with intercultural, interracial or interfaith groups.  She said that the “melting pot theory,” which implied the desirability of likeness and conformity, had now given way to the desire for understanding, appreciation, and satisfactory relationships.  Tensions which arise because of these differences, she said, are not due to the differences themselves but to the “evaluation placed on difference by the dominant group.”


However far the professional methodology of groupwork may have progressed, it is now spreading into many fields and settings.  In one meeting of the groupwork section, Robert Taber, director of the division of pupil personnel and counseling at the Philadelphia Board of Education, offered the schools as “unquestionably the greatest potential resources for the extension of social groupwork.”  He explained that since education was not longer restricted to academic and vocational training, but had begun to take responsibility for the social and emotional growth of its pupils, groupwork was seen as “a basic educational process which must be employed if the larger objective it to be realized.”

Speaking on the same program.  Clayton C.  Jones, chief of project services in the National Housing Authority’s management standards division, said that in the community buildings which are a standard part of housing projects, the residents’ inclination to make new friends and form new associations lead quite naturally to group life and activities.  Since these building shad no “tradition of use,” there could be much more flexibility in planning and scheduling programs.

Louise F.  Statlz, of the American Red Cross division of recreation training for hospital service, told how hospital recreation workers helped the patient establish satisfactory relationships to other patients.  Trained to be aware of the individual’s illness and the meaning of its limitations to him, the recreation worker can help him make the desired adjustment.

The description of the leader role played by these workers was enlarged upon in another meeting of the groupwork section by Catherine Hough of the same Red Cross staff group.  Miss Hough said that ARC recreation workers had had to experiment with the extension of the leader’s responsibility to the individual as well as to the group as a whole, because the limitations placed on the patient by his disability and the social component of his illness determine the extent to which he may become a group member.

Summing Up

At the final dinner meeting of the AAGW, Grace Coyle pointed out that the present transitional period of groupwork was similar to that which other professions have gone through.  Groupworkers now have some of the marks make a “profession” instead of an “occupation.”

Historically speaking, the most important step, Miss Coyle said, was when “we moved from seeing only be the stage of trying to account for behavior.”  This development means that groupwork is in the process of delving into the sciences underlying its practice, which inevitably results in producing different schools of thought.  She believes that there are no basic differences and that the real question is what contribution each has to make toward general professional progress.

“Let us hope,” said Gertrude Wilson, in her final remarks, “that in another ten years groupworker will have settled basic problems and will be absorbed in advance research and skill in practice which will make the groupwork method more effective in helping the individual and groups to create a better world for all mankind.”


Community chest executives, council secretaries, agency administrators, field representatives, and others who may be said to be practitioners of community organization have not been generally concerned over the years with the intellectual task of analyzing the intrinsic skills essential to professional attainment.  In the main, they have been practical “operators,” taking for granted the knowledge which they possessed and the skills which they utilized.

It was Leonard Mayo, dean of the School of Applied Social Sciences at Western Reserve, who established a new pattern in opening address to the section.  “Community organization in social work,” he said, “is the method or process by which agency structure is changed, function modified, and relationship between agencies revised in conformity with changing and demonstrable need….It is a process which, when skillfully applied, may result in the establishment, extension, and more effective synchronization of social and health resources.”  Such a definition means, as Everett C.  Shimp professor of community organization at Ohio State’s School of Social Administration, declared at another section meeting, that community organization methods “have application from the smallest community to the world community.”

Possession of six skills said Dean Mayo, are the fool request for professional competence: first– research, fact-finding and surveys; second– the selection of priorities in relation to the total need; thirty– organizational; fourth- interpretation; fifth– mobilization- of manpower, finance and other resources; and sixth, negotiations with individuals, groups, and the community.  The methods of community organization is primarily a “discussion” method used in groups and in committees.  “In essence,” said Dean Mayo, “the committee is the basis tool in the entire community organization process.”

In this section and in the supplementing afternoon meetings organized by Community Chests and Councils, Inc., the discussion wandered far afield from the initial focus, no doubt according to plan.  However, interest was crystallized during the Conference week by the formal organization of the American Association for the Study of Community Organization, with Walter Pettit, director of the New York School of Social Work, as chairman, and Russell Kurtz, assistant general director of the Russell Sage Foundaton, as secretary.  This was the outgrowth of a previously organized national committee, headed by Arthur Dunham, professor of community organization at the University of Michigan.

A series of six group meetings on “how to get things done in community organization,” especially reflected the emphasis on process and skills.  Each of these presentations and discussions was centered entirely on specific local projects.

Under the general topic “establishing a new service,” Lillian A.  Quinn, executive secretary of the Westchester County (N.Y.) Council of Social Agencies, described the process by which a new mental hygiene service had been set up in her country.  The intercultural project of he Hill District Community Council of Pittsburgh, an example of how racial groups might be brought together, was discussed by George W.  Culberson, principal of the A.  Leo Weil School and member of the council.  Louis L.  Orgera told how, during the past five years, facts from the social breakdown index had been used to effect agency and program changes in Birmingham, Ala., where he serves as assistant executive of the community chest.

At two meetings, one on the agenda of the community organization section and the other an afternoon session of the Child Welfare League of America, Henry L.  Zucker of the Cleveland Weflare Federation compared the advantages and disadvantages of “self-surveys” and surveys conducted by outside experts.  The self-survey process which he described included many meetings of a large lay committee, interviews with community leaders, and conferences with interested agencies and groups both during the study and after the recommendations were formulated.

Self-studies have the advantages of more time and more consideration for local personalities and relationship; and also offer greater help in educating both lay and professional leaders.  The outside study makes it possible to secure more expert assistance, is looked upon as being more objective, and can be managed in a shorter time.

C. Whit Pfeiffer, executive secretary of the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Los Angeles, companion speaker with Dean Mayo at the opening meeting of the community organization section, dwelt more upon the various devices and procedures which would insure that the community welfare, health, and recreation programs reach more than the “submerged tenth.”

Information Centers

Several devices expressly designed “to bring people and services together” were set up during the war.  The first of these was the general information and referral center.  While, by 1943, there were only four or five such centers, nineteen of the larger cities now have them set up and, in addition, some veterans centers are beginning to serve the general public as well as the veteran.

In a meeting devoted to the latter subject, Sydney R.  Usher, director of the Norfolk (Va.) Veterans Information and Service Center, set down five factors essential to successful operation:  first, citizenry ready to cooperate in reestablishing veterans; second, coordination of all government and private agencies; third, a centrally located and attractive office; fourth, a program which provides all services not readily available elsewhere; and fifth, a staff which knows the community and its resources.

Another device for bringing people and services together, mentioned by Mr. Pfeiffer, is the district welfare center where, as in Los Angeles, casework, groupwork, and nursing are housed together.  The longest experience with a plan of this sort, which decentralizes the administration of city wide health services, was described by Kenneth D. Widdemer, secretary of the New York Survey Committee for the Development of a Plan for a Health Council.  Speaking at the semi-annual meeting of the National Committee of Health Council Executive of Community Chests and Councils, Inc.  Mr.  Widdemer traced the twenty-five year-development of district health centers which now completely cover Greater New York area.

The contribution of union counciling toward the same purpose was permost in many minds.  Johannes Huber and Robert Levin reported the union counseling is now operating in thirty-four industrial cities with more than two thousand union members trained for this purpose.  According to experience cited, some practical difficulties need to be overcome:  for example, union members must take counseling training on their own time, and many, especially those on piece work, have difficulty in getting time off at the plant to interview people.  Future expansion will depend on getting more staff assistance.  Mr.  Hoeber urged that community chests and councils in larger cities put on full time personnel to develop the program.

Public Agencies

Devices or organizational procedures by which public agencies can play a more effective part in the community planning structure, and the process were discussed by Violet Sieder of Community Chests and Councils, Inc., as well as by Mr.  Pfeiffer.  Miss Sieder particularly stressed the need for councils of social agencies to examine their attitudes toward public agency participation in council planning.  The fear on the part of public agencies that the council is a “protective society” for private agencies needs to give way before a demonstration of real community-mindedness.

Mr.  Pfeiffer, after pointing out that in Los Angeles chest allocations comprise only 3.7 percent of the total expenditure for welfare, health, and recreation services, suggested that “all major agencies-public and non-chest, as well as chest….throw their budgets and program into the council hopper for collective analysis, evaluation, and judgment.”  Some precedents in Los Angeles, Cleveland and Pittsburgh made him confident that this could be a useful and possible procedure.

Sessions of the Community Chests and Councils’ National committee on Social Service Index covered the use of the exchange by the welfare services in industry, union organization, veterans information centers, Veterans Administration, immigration and naturalization services, and by many services in geographical areas extending beyond the boundaries of the local community.

It was generally agreed there were great hazards in opening the Index to commercial organizations.  In a joint session with the casework section, a lively discussion developed when the validity of the traditional use of the social service exchange by casework agencies was questioned by two speakers from the floor.


Growing recognition of social work as a large scale enterprise was reflected in the introduction at this conference of a new section-administration.  Ten meetings of this section were scheduled during the week, and papers were given by graduate school faculty members, and administrators from chest agencies, councils, public assistance and private agencies, together with specialist in personnel, research, and labor problems.  The training school approach, evident in the concentrated discussion of skills, process, dynamics, leadership, was flanked by discussion of practical administrative problems of structure public relations, and personnel matters such as salaries, job classification, civil service, in-service training, and retirement.

The section got down to business in its first session with Arlien Johnson, dean of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, leading off.  “We shall be examining,”  she said, “not the problems but the constituent parts of administration.  Our discussion will aim to analyze what goes on in administration and to formulate the principles and skills which characterize it.”

The interdependent factors in administration she listed as: a purpose, a plan, personnel (“including a central person whose job is helping the members of a staff relate their activities to one another so that the parts function as a whole”), a form of organization, and community relations.

Pointing out the lack of a body of professional skills in this area of social work, Miss Johnson said that, just as in other fields of social work, the basic component was skill in human relationships.

She selected concepts from casework and groupwork which she felt were particularly useful in developing skill in administration:  totality– the function and operation of the agency as a whole must always be kept in view; individualization– the appreciation of the differences between individuals in groups and committees; growth and democratic participation– recognition that group activity should develop out of the expressed needs and interest of the group.  The role of the executive, she said, was “essentially a helping role carried on by means of relationships which he has skill in developing between himself and others.”

The dynamics of leadership in social work administration was discussed in this same session by Charles E.  Henry, director of the Committee on Community Interrelations.  His central theme was that we must delve beneath the superficialities of forms and structures, of wishful thinking about democratic ideals, of preoccupation with routines and mechanics, and seek out the essence of the leadership role in administration.  He stressed the need for social work administrators to place themselves “under the discipline of an experimental social science.”

Pointing out that studies and experiments in patterns of group leadership show that morale and productivity are “a function of the interaction between the group and its leader,” Mr. Hedry emphasized the idea that leadership should be seen as a group phenomenon, not as an individual phenomenon, and should not confused with “power, prestige, position, or persuasion.”

Leaders, who are responsible for the far-flung network of national, state, and local administration units in the public welfare field, naturally spent much of their time discussing the practical issues which confront them.  Their keynote was sounded by Ewan Clague, director of the Bureau of Employment Security of the Social Security Board, and Robert T.  Lansdale, commissioner, New York State Department of Social Welfare, who is still in the midst of the thorough-going reorganization called for by the Ostertag Commission.  Contributions of these two men gave ample testimony that administration is indeed a “moving and dynamic” process.  The question under examination in this meeting of the public welfare section was the changing role of the public welfare agency due to the progressive expansion of social insurance.

Mr.  Lansdale pointed out that, as social security relieves the financial burdens of people, greater premium must be put on the provision of services through public welfare agencies.  More personnel and resources must be thrown into meeting the needs of such groups as children, the aged, and the chronically ill.  Such a shift of responsibility sets up a whole chain of functional reorientation which will be a challenge to administrative skills and capacities.

The proposal to consolidate existing welfare, health, education, and other services in a single department with cabinet status, as well as President Truman’s recent directive to reorganize and expand the Federal Security Agency, was on the public welfare section’s agenda later in the week.  Together with the American Public Welfare Association, they represent major efforts to improve the network of federal services which have grown so rapidly in the past fifteen years.

Marion Hathway, professor of public welfare,described the work of the committee, under the chairmanship of Mrs.  Eugene Meyer, on whose memorandum was based the proposed bill to set up a department with cabinet status.  Particularly important was the committee’s decision to include education as well as welfare and health within the department’s scope.

Miss Hathway pointed out that President Truman’s directive would make several major changes which are of interest to social work: the functions of the Children’s Bureau, except for child labor, and those of the Social Security Board, would be transferred to the Federal Security Agency; so, also, would be vital statistics operations of the Census Bureau and the whole of the U.S. Employment Compensation Commission.

Marietta Stevenson, professor of social welfare,University of Illinois, reviewed the past history of federal state relationships and concluded that integration at the state level would “follow rather quickly” better integration at the federal level.  Steady progress in unified administration, merit system, and other standards has followed the Social Security Act, “whereas, lack of federal leadership can be seen in general assistance.”  She also urged passage of the Forand bill “to give substance to the Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.”

Of immediate concern to many public welfare administrators are the methods by which specialized child welfare service may be integrated into the public assistance program.  Edith G.  Ross of the Louisiana State Department of Public Welfare emphasized the value of establishing a consultative rather than a supervisory relationship between the regional child welfare workers and the local parish workers handling child care cases.  Organizational structure, she pointed out, is not so important as the philosophy of the staff in regard to total responsibility for the needs of families and children.

In discussing the dual role of the field supervisor in a public welfare agency, Phyllis Osborn, regional representative for the FSA’s Bureau of Public Assistance in Kansas City, stressed somewhat the same point.  The field worker, she said, should not carry a “big stick” but should remember to adhere to the principle that “we are working through people for people,” and all methods and measurements of achievement must be dominated by this fact.

Public Relations

Public relations in social work was notably recognized on the program of the administration section.  In a full discussion of its role by Warren Thompson, publicity director of the Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society, and Perry B.  Hall, executive director of the Family Service Society in Hartford, Conn., the dual points of view of the public relations worker and the agency executive were presented.

It was also a lively topic of interest on other programs.  Annette Garrett has rather starkly confronted caseworkers on the opening day with the existence of a “negative public attitude toward casework.”  Martha Barnes, specialist is interpretation of health and welfare for E. G. Barnes Associates in New York City, told the members of the American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers that “psychiatric social work has given social work interpretation the knottiest problem of its career,” in expecting interpreters to “make a convincing case for such intangibles as emotional and mental rehabilitation.”

Bernard A.  Roloff, newly elected public relations director of the Chicago Community Fund, in an afternoon session of the Child Welfare League of America said that results of the lack of planned public relations programs among children’s agencies could be seen in the limited referrals from schools and churches, the lack of foster homes, and the flourishing black market in babies.

He pleaded for the use of a skilled public relations staff, preferably with its own budget.  Where that was not possible, he suggested a joint public relations program by the agency and the community chest.  The practical issues involved in working out such joint chest agency plans we canvassed at one of the community organization meetings by two chest public relations directors, T.  Spencer Meyer, of Community Chests and Councils, Inc., and Richard Overmeyer, of Cleveland’s Welfare Federation, and by Clare M. Tousely, director of the department of public interest, Community Service Society, New York.

Companion speaker with Mr. Roloff was Carlton K. Matson, associate editor and chief editorial writer of the Cleveland Press, who said that “contact with the public, through press and radio…is a mainline activity and should be treated as such.”  Complaining about the multiplicity of reports and releases which flooded his desk, Mr.  Matson recalled the days when a prominent social office to talk with the editor.  “He made occasion to drop in when he didn’t want anything except advice,” said Mr. Matson, “and in the process of taking advice he managed to give a good deal of education.”  In those days, according to the speaker, public relations had not been “discovered” and contact with the press “was the business of principals.”


Problems of personnel, job classification, salaries, and retirement also cut well across the conference sectional boards.  Harry L.  Lurie, executive director of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, New York City, appearing on a program of the administration section, said that in social work, as in industry, “the determination of salaries is largely the product of informal or formal bargaining processes.”  He added that social work as a whole had been backward in approaching the question of compensation on a systematic basis, and that unionization of social workers was not yet widespread enough of well enough organized to progress without “the help of the profession as a whole.”

Florence I. Hosch, chairman of the committee on personnel practices of the AASW, blamed the “cultural lag that results in low salaries for professional service” on the “friendly visitor and volunteer” concept; on fundraising publicity which implies that “your dollar goes for relief”; on the fact that women “have accepted lower salary rates because of the expectation of marriage.”

In discussing the merit system from the standpoint of the operating system from the standpoint of the operating agency, Robert P.  Wray, acting secretary of the Department of Public Assistance in Pennsylvania, submitted that the recruitment policies of the Thirties were no longer applicable to public welfare positions.  Many people applied to take every civil service examination that was announced in those days, but now “the labor market is tight and civil service bodies haven’t changed their recruitment plans.”  He argued for a policy which would fix recruitment responsibility in the operating agency, leaving to the merit system the supplementary function of examination, certification, and approval.

Not with significance to the administration of voluntary agencies was the fact that the Buffalo Conference welcomed for the first time, as an associate group, the National Health and Welfare Retirement Association, whose director, Homer Wickenden, held regular office hours during the Conference week.  On the last day of the Conference, a panel discussion, scheduled under the auspices of the administrative section and under the chairmanship of Mr.  Wickenden, dealt with some principles and problems involved in retirement planning.


Finally, this new section on administration highlighted the process by which board members and volunteers must be enabled to play their part with increasing effectiveness in public as well as private agencies.  Ralph A.  Uihlein, president of the Family Welfare Association of America, pointed out that the functions of the board of a voluntary agency have changed no less than the functions of its staff.

The test of a modern board, he said, lay in these factors: first, it should contain influential, although not necessarily wealthy citizens, who know something of the work of the agency; second, the members should serve in the work of the agency or as members of a discussion group; third, the group should contain members who are learning about the agency and preparing themselves for board service; and fourth, the group should serve as an intermediate body between the agency and the public at large.

Both Robert Levin of the CIO and Wilbur Maxwell, head of the department of labor of Community Chests and Councils, who spoke on the same program with Mr.  Uihlein, stressed the important and increasing work of organized labor in board membership and its interest in good administration.  “Labor looks to administrators,” said Mr.  Levin, “for the solution of many problems with social agencies seem to expect public relations to solve.”  For instance, he said that posters will not resolve the fact that families often go the casework agencies at too late a stage in the development of their problems.

The importance of sound administrative processes in relation to recruiting, training, placing and supervising volunteers was stressed not only in these meetings where the “administrative volunteer”- the board member- was being discussed.  In a joint session of the community organization and groupwork sections devoted to the question of general lay participation in health and welfare services, Gladys Rideout, director of the volunteer department of the Chicago Travelers Aid Society, said that it was up to the agency to “provide a setting…where the volunteer’s motive in giving himself will be recognized and appreciated, where he will be seen as an individual with definite contributions to make.”  The necessity of having a job which is within the volunteer’s area of competence, and a chance to get, through training and supervision, an opportunity to develop on the job, were stressed by Miss Rideout.

Again, in a roundup session on significant aspects of volunteer work throughout the country, sponsored by the Community Chests and Councils’ committee on volunteer service, emphasis was laid on the need for sound administrative practice.  Under the leadership of Mrs.  Thomas Tolan and Dorothy B.  de la Pole, the volunteer peacetime was discussed from the point of view of the agencies, the membership organizations, labor, the local volunteer bureau, and the school of social work.

At a joint session of this committee with the community organization section the following day, Eduard C. Lindeman of the New York School of Social Work, pointing to the tremendous potentiality for social work volunteer service which became apparent in wartime, said:  “We stand upon the threshold of a new venture in social tactics which will, if it succeeds, bring social work into new relationships, new responsibilities, new comprehensions.”  As evidence of the eagerness to capture for peacetime pursuits, the great increase in volunteer interest and activity of the war years, he cited the developing leadership of the National Committee on Volunteers; the recent special issue of the Compass, entirely devoted to ways and means of volunteer service; and the comprehensive study of community organization for volunteer service made recently under the auspices of the New York War Fund ( see Survey Midmonthly, May 1946).

1. The Problems of People

The expansion and deepening of professional knowledge, skills, and techniques have no other purpose than to lead to better service for people.  If was natural, therefore, that much of the material at the Buffalo Conference, like the seventy-two Conferences which preceded it, should have been organized around human needs.  Regular sections dealt with health, mental health, delinquency, and the special needs of children and the aged.  In addition special programs were arranged to consider problems of the veteran, the adult delinquent, the alcoholic, and of medical care for all people.  Cutting across all the Conference sections and the meetings of its affiliated groups were discussions about the whole gamut of human wants and ills, what is needed to meet them, and how this can and should be done.


Although the problems of economic need did not dominate this Conference as they had in the depression days, there was tacit recognition that a secure and adequate standard of living is a first condition for a healthy society.  The primary question was, of course:  Will we have full employment and what can be done to assure that we do have it?

At an early general session Ewan Clague, director of the Bureau of Employment Security of the Social Security Board, contended that we won’t get “full employment in the substantially complete sense…because neither a controlled economy, a continuing war economy, nor a perfectly competitive economy are practical possibilities.”  Although he was sure that we cannot “prevent” unemployment, we can minimize it, and our social security programs must mitigate its chief horrors “by guaranteeing the income of the worker and his family during such a period.”

In forecasting the immediate future, W.  S.  Woytinsky, economic consultant for the Bureau of Employment Security, held out hope—as Mr.  Clague did—for a more favorable postwar employment situation that was the case after World War I.  “The United States,” he said “has a fair chance of enjoying a long spell of prosperity and full employment with only minor setbacks…Probably in 1950 we shall enter a phase of the postwar cycle analogous to that which started in 1923.  The chances of expansion in the 1950’s will be incomparably greater than in the 1920’s, but,” he warned, “the dangers also will be much greater.”

That economic cycle should not have their own way without concerted and aggressive action was the theme of other papers.  Although the scheduled speakers on “Initiating Action on Full Employment” did not arrive, Chairman Eveline M.  Burns focused a lively discussion on “our responsibility (1) to arouse public opinion so that all possible steps will be taken to insure ‘full employment’; and (2) to help implement policies already decided upon.”  At a meeting of the Joint committee of Trade Unions in Social Work, Alfred H.  Katz, director of the Workers Personal Service Bureau, Brooklyn, declared that with the threat of widespread unemployment and the shrinkage of living standards no social worker could remain passive in the face of the aggregation of human needs.

Economic underpinning for underpaid workers urged by Leon G.  Henderson of the Research Institute of America, at a meeting of the National Consumer’s League, devoted to the pending minimum wage legislation.  He said that the case for minimum family standard of life taken with the case for maintaining purchasing power held of attainment of social and economic goals.

At the same meeting, R.  W.  Hudgens, assistant administrator of the Farm Security Administration, urged the establishment of a federally operated national farm placement service to improve the organization of the farm labor market, and coverage of all farm labor including migrants under state and federal protective legislation.

David Kaplan, chief economist for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, on the program of the administration section, said that labor’s effort to develop human rights for the individual have proceeded through two main streams- “legislation which builds up rights through law and collective bargaining which develops rights through contract.”  Employers liability laws and workmen’s compensation, unemployment compensation and the old age benefits of OASI are three outstanding examples of legislative enactments that have progressively added to the economic security of the individual worker.

Public welfare administrators, hopeful that optimistic employment forecasts would prove true, and mindful of the supporting forces in the federal security program, insisted upon higher standards of adequacy for those who are their clients.

Public Assistance Standards

In the public welfare section, Jane M.  Hoey, director of the Bureau of Public Assistance, Social Security Board, speaking to a joint meeting with the American Home Economic Association, assumed general agreement “that the agency should provide assistance that will sufficient to give the individual an opportunity to take his place in the social as well as the economic life of the nation.”  However, she admitted, we are far from achieving that goal.  “Less than one third of the states have established cost figures for fuel, light, water, and shelter.  Few….have decided what responsibility the agency has for…refrigeration, to replace worn-out household equipment and furnishings, to pay for insurance, medicine chest supplies, transportation.”

Taking a broad view of the whole problem of economic security, A.  Delafield Smith, of the Federal Security Agency, told the conference that “the test of a free society will be found in the scope of right and privilege preserved to and possessed by its weakest elements….We should see, by every means at our disposal, to get every means at our disposal, to get into our assistance statutes, expressly and specifically, the statement that benefit is not to be construed as a gratuity, but as the creation of a right socially and economically justified.”

At the final meeting of the section on public welfare, Marion Hathaway professor of public welfare at the University of Pittsburgh, expressing hopes of many public welfare leaders, said she was convinced that passage of the APWA Forand bill would do much to improve and raise the standard of our whole public assistance machinery.  Miss Hathway pointed to ten years’ experience with the social security program as a basis of knowledge of what was needed now, in discussing the Forand bill, which is aimed to reorganize the federal assistance program.


Although the Conference did not pretend to cover the many professional interests of public health or hospital administration and the many specialized practitioners in this broad field, this year, medical care stood high on the list of current health concerns.  One of the Conference’s special programs was arranged to allow Arthur J.  Altmeyer, chairman of the Social Security Board, and Dr.  Herbert H.  Bauckus of Buffalo, a past president of the New York Medical Society, to present what proved to be at least partially opposing points of view about President Truman’s national health program.

“Few people,” said Mr.  Altmeyer, “have large enough incomes to absorb the expenses of unexpected illness.  The overwhelming mass of normally self-supporting persons will not declare themselves needy or take a means test in order to secure medical care without direct change.”  Notin that the American Medical Association is now recommending and sponsoring voluntary health insurance plans, whereas in 1932 its Journal described such plans as “socialism and communism-inciting the revolution,”  Mr.  Altmeyer saw “no legitimate reason for doctors to protest against any system that would leave the conditions of practice unchanged while arranging a method for the payment of their fees.”  Agreeing “that doctors not only have a right to be heard but have a right to participate actively in the planning of any program,” he nevertheless felt that consumers were equally entitled to these rights.

Dr.  Bauckus gave general approval to much of the President’s program but took sharp issue with its health insurance provisions.  He felt that the system would interfere with the free choice of physicians by patients and be subject to political interference.  The AMA, he explained, “is interested primarily in preserving the high standards of medical care in this country” and feels that governmental health insurance, providing for the prepayment of medical costs “ would lower these standards.”

The large scale problems of administering a national health program were discussed in the health section by I.  S.  Falk of the Social Security Board, and Dr.  J.  W.  Mountain, chief of the States Relations Division of the U.S. Public Health Service.  Mr.  Falk, concerned primarily with the administration of the insurance features, concluded that the plan presents no problem which has not already been faced and successfully met in other connections.  There are a different combination of problems but no “insurmountable obstacles.”

The fact that we already have an old age and survivors insurance system, he pointed out, with 85,000,000 separate wage accounts means that we have machinery which could be used in collection and disbursement of funds.  Mr.  Falk emphasized the point that successful administration would depend on cooperation with local units in establishing satisfactory practices.  Such practices, he said, should make certain that the insured patient gets care from the doctor of his own choice under the most advantageous and helpful circumstances.

Dr.  Mountain, as a seasoned public health administrator, was especially concerned with the preventive aspects of the program.  He emphasized that “a fully coordinated health program under the department” would do away with the present separation of the “preventive activities traditionally carred on by public health agencies.”  For example, he said that the practice of obstetrics would be closely related to the preventive program of prenatal and postpartum care, and the practice of pediatrics to infant and school hygiene.

Progress in the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis and venereal disease was reported at one of the panels of the section on delinquency.  Dr.  J.  R.  Heller, chief of venereal disease section of the USPHA, expressed the hope that the burden of social work had been “somewhat lightened” by the combined use of penicillin and arsenic treatment.

Hope for a vaccine which would prevent tuberculosis was voiced by Dr.  Herman E.  Hilleboe, chief of the tuberculosis control division of the USPHS, at a joint meeting of the National Tuberculosis Association of Medical Social Workers.  He said the use of BBG vaccination “is being studied in tensively…Preliminary analysis of the results…promise much.”

Cooperation in another area was stressed by Dr.  Victor H.  Vogel, chief medical officer of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.  To restore disabled persons to earning power requires team play between physicians, psychiatrists, medical social workers, nurses, and vocational advisers, he said.  “Experience has shown that patients often cannot make good use of medical service because of fears and anxieties and social situations.  On an even broader front, under the touchstone caption of the “psychosomatic approach,” Dr.  Harry M.  Margolis of Pittsburgh estimated that 40 to 60 percent of all patients who go to doctors have an emotional disturbance as the predominant cause of their illness.”  Treatment of such cases depends on “absolute certainty of the diagnosis” and, if possible, the cooperation of a medical social worker.

Mental Health

One could not come away from the sessions on mental health without feeling that the case for a national program had been well documented.  “It is estimated that 8,000,000 persons, about 6 percent of the population, are suffering from some form of mental disease or personality disorder,” reported Dr.  Daniel Blain, assistant medical director of neuropsychiatry of the Veterans Administration.  “The rapid emergence of psychiatric difficulties threatened to overwhelm the medical profession in the nation.  Planning on a national scope is essential.”

Supporting the Priest bill (H.  R.  4512) which would set up a national program for training psychiatrists, research, for training psychiatrists, research, and subsidies to hospitals and clinics, Dr.  Robert H.  Felix, chief of the mental hygiene division of the  USPHS, estimated that “we need at a minimum, twice the number of qualified psychiatrists now available…and we may need as many as 6,000 psychiatric social workers.”

Weakness in present state programs, it was hoped, would be substantially buttressed by the proposed federal legislation.  The state, said Dr.  James M.  Cunningham, director of the Bureau of Mental Hygiene of the Connecticut State Department of Health, traditionally has been responsible for the construction and maintenance of hospitals for the mentally ill.  “Extramural” program need to be developed in order to provide the functions of licensing, promotion of local psychiatric services, advice and the operation and subsidy of psychiatric clinic services.

Three million persons, presenting “one of the largest categories of sick persons in the country today,” suffer from alcoholism, according to Dr.  Seldon D.  Bacon told conferees that this problem is being met “with sixteenth century attitudes,” and that the public must be educated to see alcoholism as a disease, and its treatment as a public health program.  Speaking on the same program, Dr.  Joseph Thimann of Washington Hospital in Boston, described a plan for treatment of alcoholism as a symptom  of a personality disorder.

An anonymous speaker, member of Alcoholics Anonymous, appearing on a program sponsored by the Council of Seaman’s Agencies, testified that 24,000 members of this organization have found a “workable answer to this social menace,” principles of which are to be found “in medicine and religion.”


Although Charles L.  Chute, its executive director, had reported to the pre-conference sessions of the National Probation Association that “juvenile delinquency, which increased 50 percent during the war is now going down” and that “there is no honest evidence of any increase in the amount of severity of adult crime,” there was plenty of evidence of concern over these twin manifestations of social disorganization and antisocial behavior.  Emphasis was organized around two points:  the institutional treatment of juvenile and adult prisoners in detention homes, jails, prisons, and reformatories; and community and state planning to arouse citizen interest and coordinate for an all-out program for prevention and control.

Speaking on one of the special conference programs, Sanford Bates, New Jersey Commissioner of Institutions and Agencies, advocated sweeping changes in prison administration.  “The most beautifully designed prison which the architect can contrive is useless unless it is administered by men devoted to something more than the task of making life miserable for the inmates,” he declared.  He went on to emphasize that “discipline in the penitentiary must be directly related to the teaching of citizenship.”

At the opening meeting of the section on delinquency, Edgar Martin Gerlach, federal prison inspector and director of the correction system survey, gave a picture of what happens at the grass roots of our correctional system.  Jails or lockups maintained by 3,073 small county units, he said, are usually an adjunct of the sheriff’s office.  Many are fire hazards, food is inadequate (in one instance provided at a cost of 19 cents a day), truant girls and confirmed prostitutes are housed together, and boys are kept in rotunda cells without toilet facilities.

He added that the situation has been getting worse instead of better.  A study by the Federal Bureau of Prisions in 1937 showed that 65 percent of the country’s jails fell below a 50 percent rating as to administration, discipline, food, personnel, and court treatment.  In 1945, 80.8 percent fell below that rating.

The picture of special detention facilities for juveniles is almost as bad according to Sherwood Norman of the National Probation Association.  A recent intensive study of forty-three of the nation’s better detention facilities showed that “…with the exception of half a dozen there was lack of understanding and guidance, mental and emotional starvation, lack of things to do and sound leadership to do them, improper segregation of age and problem groups so that the child is literally bottled up with bad companions.”  Well trained and well paid staffs, better intake procedures and the general strengthening of community services for children were among the recommendations made by Mr.  Norman as a basis for community action.

Administrative and other policies in respect to detention for both adults and juveniles came up for discussion in two later panels under the chairmanship of Mr.  Chute.  The importance of screening at intake in close cooperation with police juvenile bureaus, of the participation of lay boards in policy making, and of decent budgets for the juvenile homes were stressed by speakers who took part in the latter discussions.

The issues in community planning were treated at several different levels.  Saul D.  Alinsky, executive director of the Industrial Areas Foundation of Chicago, said that, in his opinion, the reason we are not making headway against delinquency is the failure to recognize it as merely symptomatic of other basic problems such as poverty and disease.

In connection with a program of the child care section, Judge Stephen H.  Clink of the Muskegon (Mich.) Probate Court, described how a five-year over-all community plan had cut court spending from $40,000 to $23,000.  The plan was worked out through a social planning council with service and advice from the State Department of Public Welfare and the Michigan Children’s Institute.

Planning at the state level was discussed by Walter M.  Berry, executive secretary of the Michigan Youth Guidance Commission, and at a panel under the chairmanship of William W.  T.  Squire, secretary-director of the Connecticut State Public Welfare Council.  The Michigan Commission, now in its third year, was set up as a department of state government to do statewide planning.  Many laws have been passed on its recommendations revisiting the juvenile court code, changing the policies of the state training schools, revising the school codes.  Approximately $1,000,000 has been appropriated to expand state services and facilities.

The Connecticut program, described by Mrs.  Herbert Fisher, of Hartford, is organized under the voluntary State Commission on Crime and Delinquency Prevention.  Three regional groups are being organized to promote the formation of local committees and the state organization will publish a quarterly bulletin and conduct a speakers bureau and a motion picture film service, as means to stimulate local action.

Leisure Satisfactions

The desirability of providing abundant opportunities for achieving personal satisfaction through the use of leisure is generally accepted.  According to G.  Ott Romeny of the American Red Cross, it is just as important as economic security of good health.  At the opening meeting of the group-work section, Mr.  Romeny said that if a person “is to preserve his ideals, dignity and worth ans an individual, if he is to find meaning in living and save himself for becoming a materialistic robot or leisure time illiterate, he must look to adequate preparation, stimulation, and opportunity for using his time off….pleasantly and profitably, constructively and decently.  He must be guaranteed the right and be provided the preparation to live the life of a free man in his leisure time.”

Planning to make this possible, through expansion of facilities and resources, was a question to which many speakers directed themselves.  Charles K.  Brightbill, of the Office of Community War Services, predicted that post-war demands by the public for tax financed recreation programs would result in increased federal and state participation in long range planning.

In discussing the problem of community planning, Chester L.  Bower, secretary of the group work section of the Houston Council of Social Agencies, noted that only 35 of the 313 councils of social agencies in the country had full time or part time secretaries for their groupwork and recreational divisions.  The fact that only three of these had any definite responsibility in connection with the budgeting of chest funds indicates a general unawareness f the realistic relation between planning and financing.

Speakers from several related fields also testified to the growing interest in providing more adequate leisure opportunities.  George B.  Corwin, chairman of the program committee of Associated Youth Serving Organizations, cited the mushroom growth of over 3,000 teen-age canteens and youth centers, as “tested by fire” evidence of the desire of young people “ to participate realistically in managing their own and the community’s affairs.”

The director of pupil personnel and counseling of the Philadelphia Board of Education, Robert C.  Tabor, proposed the public schools as logical area for expansion of recreational opportunities, since schools were strategically located, and it was a waste for them to lie idle after school hours.

In a special meeting of the National Federation of Settlements.  Grace L.  Coyle stressed the educational and recreational function of settlements in carrying out their purpose to create a “spirit of neighborliness,” as well as their functions of social actions, community organization, and individual service.


One of the largest audiences paid tribute not only to the social work’s concern for the men who fought the war, but to tow of the Conference’s most distinguished speakers, General Omar N.  Bradley, head of the Veterans Administration, and Elizabeth Healy Ross, former secretary of the War Office of Psychiatric Social Work, at the special session on “The Veteran.”  The appropriateness of such interest was pointed up by General Bradley himself, who described the Veterans Administration as “an unprecedented undertaking in social readjustment.”

“We must not forget, however,” he continued, “that the man who landed on Iwo Jima is not by any means a helpless young man.  Needy?  Yes…in need of a chance to make up lost time, of opportunity for the fresh start in the civilian world.  But helpless?  No!  When he discarded his uniform the veteran lost none of the initiative, resourcefulness, intelligence, and courage that enabled him to win the war.”  General Bradley reported that 700,000 veterans are already studying, and an other 2,000,000 have indicated that their future plans include additional training and education.

Stating that “there is no war wounded veteran today acutely in need of hospital care for whom there is no bed,” General Bradley said that the biggest hospital care problem lack of doctors- was being worked out, since the shortage had dropped from 1,500 to 500 in six months.  He added that “some of the biggest names in medical profession have left their practices to join the Veterans Administration on a full time basis.”

General Bradley issued a strong plea to communities and to industry to help both wounded and able-bodied veterans as well as the large group which has had little experience, find jobs.  “Experience has shown that with training, guidance, and intelligence placement, the disabled veteran is capable of bettering the production of other workers.”

Mrs.  Ross, after admitting the “terrifying size of the job,” issued a stirring challenge to social workers to get on with it by shaking off some of their traditional attitudes, both toward their skills and toward their community relationship.  Social work must hold fast to its capacity to “appreciate individual differences” and not be tempted to make a blanket assumption that there is a “veteran psychology,” for, after all, “each man had his own war.”  She urged, too, that social work find a way to work with veteran organizations.  “Out of such work,” she said, “maybe we’ll learn how to differ, an dhow to state a difference for the public good as wee see it, in a way that won’t sound like treason.”

Some firsthand clues about the role which casework agencies are now playing in helping veterans make their adjustments were presented by Marguerite S.  Meyer, case consultant of the Boston Family Welfare Society, and Betty P.  Mahaffy, director, family service department of the Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, at a joint afternoon session of the National committee on Service to Veterans and the National Publicity Council for Health and Welfare Services.

Miss Meyer urged recognition that “much of our work for a long time to come will be with families in which some member has been in the armed services.”  Anticipating that the greatest need for casework wold come after, rather than during, demobilization, she reported that a “large percentage” have already come with family problems, “essentially those of difficulty in marital relationship.”

Mrs.  Mahaffy suggested that caseworkers working with veterans needed to sharpen their sense of timing and to begin by giving “demonstrable help.”  Her agency has found also that effective work with veterans involves concurrent help for parents or close family members.

At this same meeting both Sallie E.  Bright, executive director of the National Publicity Services, and Robert E.  Bondy, director of the National Social Welfare Assembly, emphasized the importance of a sound public attitude toward the veteran’s problem.  “Community committees must be alerted to the changing needs of veterans,” said Mr.  Bondy, “and must work at plugging the gaps in community services.”

Many of the Conference sessions included refreshing contributions of social workers who were veterans themselves.  The panel devoted to a discussion of the army’s current program for dealing with military prisoners, was made up of a galaxy of professional talent, some still in service, some in their new civilian clothes.  Decrying the impression that the army program was brutal and unintelligent, F.  Lovell Bixby, formerly deputy director of the Correction Division of the War Department, said that our of a total of 73,000 courts marital cases, 43 percent have already been restored to duty.

A fitting concluding note to this brief account of the Conference concern for veterans is to be found in Saul Hofstein’s plea for a little more consideration by social work for its own social worker-veteran expect from social work?”  he asked at a meeting of the Social Work Vocational Bureau.  “Primarily, he wanted to become a civilian social worker as quickly as possible.  He does not want to be set apart…He does want to know that the administrator recognizes and credits the growth that has taken place over the last years.”


The enthusiastic response to Dr.  Chisholm’s plea to “set the children free” from the bondage of cultural taboos and superstitions, gave a clue to one of the major concerns of the Conference.  Not only in the meetings of child care section and in the afternoon meetings of the Child Welfare League of America, but on almost every sectional program child care specialists were heard by audiences who were attentive and concerned because of what they had been seeing and hearing in their own communities.

A compelling characterization of the present scene came from E.  Marguerite Gane, the Buffalo Children’s Aid and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, who testified that “an increasing number of parents are struggling towards separation and divorce,” and that “children are not merely pawns in this chaotic, charged atmosphere, they are deliberately used as accomplices by one parent or the other.”  Miss Gane said that infants born to married women during their husbands’ absence “are being offered for adoption in the most fantastic ways” and that many small children are being left to care for themselves under precarious conditions.  Leon H.  Richman of the Cleveland Jewish Children’s Bureau and Bellefair, described how children needing temporary care are being placed in jails, detention homes, and hospitals, because of shortages of foster homes and trained personnel.

Against the background, Leonard W.  Mayo, dean of the School of Applied Social Sciences at Western Reserve University, pleaded for strong community and state organization.  In speeches made at the opening session of the section on child care and again at the annual meeting of the Child Welfare League of America, at which he presided, he urged strong state committees on the needs of children, vigorous local organization, and effective implementation of the League’s five year plan for expansion.

A practical example of the effectiveness of a lay committee came from Mamie d.  Rayburn of the child welfare bureau, department of public welfare in Fulton Country, N.  Y.  speaking at a Child Welfare League session, she told how the program in the country was saved at a crucial point by a lay committee which succeeded against great odds in making the program a popular one, even with “the politicians.”

Maud Morlock, consultant from the U.  S.  Children’s Bureau, said, regarding child welfare legislation, that the social factors as well as legal points should be considered in law making.  For instance, state laws regarding relinquishment of parental rights should include requirement for judicial sanction, and should provide for private hearings, in order to protect the confidence of those involved.

The two most discussed topics in these sessions were problems of adoption and trends in institutional care.  Miss Morlock stated that in 1944, adoption petitions for 50,000 children were filed in the twenty-two sates from which information was available.  The increase in number of illegitimate births has served to highlight problems in the field of adoption

One of these is, of course, the public misunderstanding of the factors involved and general criticism of red tape and delay.  In a paper on casework trends in the field of adoption, Dorothy Hutchinson of the New York School of Social Work showed how the delay was primarily due to two factors:  the feeling on the part of placement agencies that they “must” leave no stone unturned in getting through knowledge of child”; and the process of securing a surrender from the mother.

Miss Hutchinson acknowledged that agencies had had stiff competition from “baby-bootleggers,” who worked fast and promised secrecy in the transaction, even though they were without scruple.  Although agencies should not throw overboard well established procedures, she pointed out that early placements were being experimented with successfully.

The process of securing surrender from the mother is often complicated by the number of agencies who are in on a case, the interstate legal problems, and the mother’s own conflict.  Miss Hutchinson said that, in some cases, the agency does the mother an injustice by delaying placement even after she has come to a decision.

A significant current trend in child care seems to be toward more thoughtful use of the institution as a group living experience for certain types of children.

In one session of the child care section, Susanne Schulze, associate professor of child welfare at the School of Applied Sciences, Western Reserve University, said that in the more progressive institutions, program and procedures are being adjusted to accept the institution as complementary to the foster home, rather than competitive; also, that the basic function of the institution is being seen more as a chance for group living, preferably in small units, such as the cottage plan.

Interesting case material was presented at this session by Dr.  Emmy Sylvester, consultant to the Orthogenic School at the University of Chicago, on the use of psychotherapy in children’s institutions; and by Ruth Atchley, director of social service at St.  Christopher’s School, Dobbs Ferry, N.  Y., on the need for specialized casework treatment of the needs of individual children in the institution.

National trends in day care, according to Alice Dashiell, field secretary for the Child Welfare League, are discouraging in that so few states are making plans to supplant the program made possible by Lanham act funds.  However, she reported, there are wartime gains in that communities became accustomed to broad planning for day care, and there is a trend in the best agencies to recruit and train personnel in order to give good all around service in day care.

Work with unmarried parents in planning for illegitimate children came in for a good deal of attention from the child care section and special meeting scheduled by the Committee on Unmarried Parenthood.  A plea for confidential birth certificates to protect the illegitimate child was made by Helen C.  Huffman of the Census Bureau, at one of the latter meetings.  She described a new type of birth card now in legal use in Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington.  The card certifies name, race, sex, date and place of birth without indicating illegitimacy.

A plea for continued work with unmarried mothers were entered by Dr.  Mable Ross of the Buffalo Guidance Center, since “the stresses and strains of illegitimate pregnancy do not end with the birth of the child.”  Miss Morlock, speaking at one of the meetings of the Committee on Unmarried Parenthood, urged working toward a public welfare program which would reach all unmarried mothers.  Although every state now has a department of welfare with provisions for special services to children and a division of maternal and child welfare services, she said the amount of money and staff available to carry out the program is not always adequate.

Problems of personnel in the child care field were discussed at a special meeting of the Child Welfare League, with Lois Wildy of the Chicago School of Social Administration giving the facts about the serious shortage of workers in both public and private agencies.  Many positions are unfilled, she said, and there are a large number of untrained workers being used where training professionals are needed.

One of the basis answers to this problem—need for adequate salaries and good personnel practices—was brought out in a discussion which concluded that a cooperative plan to recruit, train, place, and keep good people in this field need to be worked out by the Children’s Bureau, the Child Welfare League, the American Association of Schools of Social Work, the American Association of Social Workers, and the agencies.

The day when cottage parents would be given professional training was predicted by Mrs.  Schulze, who outlined a proposed curriculum and said though it might seem utopian “we probably once thought the same about jobs which now are done only by trained people.”  Mrs.  Schulze urged investing all we could in our children today, for the sake of having “happy, well adjusted adults and parents in the future.”


The crux of the new philosophy about care and services for our oldsters (see “Modern Old Age,” Survey Midmonthyl, April 1946) was stated simply by Mrs.  Francis J.  Stokes of the Philadelphia Council of Social Agencies at a meeting sponsored by the Conference section on the aged, when she said that old age need be no tragedy.  And indeed the plans and already-operating projects which were described in meetings of this section gave one the feeling that, not too many years hence, the place of the older citizens in our country might become something to look forward to.  For the progress that has been made by those agencies whose work has been most affected by the gradual shift in population trends, points the way past mere increased life expectancy, which science has made possible, to anticipation of full living in the so-called “declining years.”

Living arrangements which preserve as great a degree of independence as possible; recreation which encourages development of hobbies and skills, and provides a setting for continuing social life; hospitals, nursing homes, and institutions where the chronically ill may receive adequate care—these are some of the goals toward which these agencies are reaching.

There are, however, long strides to be taken before these goals can be reached, and in this section, as in others, the spotlight was on the practical problems facing the aged now.

The increased number of older people needing ling arrangements, plus the current housing situation, is putting both private and public agencies under great pressure, according to Margaret W.  Wagner of Cleveland’s Benjamin-Rose Institute.  Speaking at a joint session of the sections on the aged and casework, she said that communities must begin to “develop a great diversity of resources,” including not only institutions, boarding and nursing homes, but also foster homes (not with foster parents, however, according to Miss Wagner), and facilities for independent living, such as apartments and single units.

Speaking for the point of view of the public agency, Lillie H.  Nairen, director of the New Orleans department of public welfare, said that the situation showed the need for laws licensing boarding homes and establishing housing standards of sanitation, safety, and capacity.

Raymond M.  Hilliard of the Illinois Public Aid Commission spoke on another point important to the public agency when he described how, as a result of legislation passed in his state in 1945, old county poorhouses are being converted into modernized institutions in which both the public welfare recipient and the non-indigent are eligible for care.

Quoting the National Health Survey which showed that one our of five persons in the country today suffers from a chronic disease, Dr.  Ellen C.  Potter of the New Jersey Department of Institution and Agencies, said that although life expectancy had increased since the turn of the century from forty-nine to sixty-five years, “the lack of statesmanship in the health and welfare fields has permitted a large proportion of the population to be permanently handicapped by disease and defect.”

Action in behalf of the long term patient, Dr.  Potter warned, led along a path full of “opposition, apathy, and vested interests,”  She said that there must be concerted action on the part of many public and private agencies, to see to it that general hospitals are organized so as to give full service to the chronically ill and that nurses and doctors, now mainly trained to care for acute illness, begin to recognize that care of the long term recognize that care of the long term patient is not necessary, but holds many challenges to the medical profession.  She stressed the importance of public interest and said there was need for the same kind of action which citizens and the medical profession took, beginning in 1905, in the fight against tuberculosis.

At the meetings of the National Federation of Settlements which preceded the National Conference, 325 settlement workers and board members heard Horace Cayton, director of Parkway Community Center, Chicago, and co-author of “Black Metropolis,” speak on the situation of the Negro in northern communities.  Mr.  Cayton described how, in the population movement outward from the heart of the metropolis, prompted by the rise of economic standards, the Negro finds himself stalled in the transition area because of unnatural restrictions.

The advantages and disadvantages of the Race Discrimination Act of New York State were discussed by Crystal M.  Potter of New York City’s bureau of child welfare in a meeting on institutional care for Negro children, sponsored by the Child Welfare League of America.  In her experience, Mrs.  Potter said that “children are the best salesman of the nondiscriminatory program.”  Speaking from the point of view of the needs of Negro children in a city were the pattern of segregation still exists, Laura D.  Nichols of the Philadelphia House of the Holy Child showed how segregation results in lack of adequate facilities and inequalities of service.

Migration during wartime highlighted the differing degrees of integration of minority groups in the country’s geographical areas, according to Emily Levin, United Jewish Social Service, Kansas City, Mo.  In a paper on social casework with persons of minority groups, Miss Levin brought out the need for social work to find a scientific approach to cultural factors.  Psychological process, she said, may be the dynamic of behavior, but culture determines its ultimate form.  On the same program, Ruth D.  Smith, Youth Consultantion Service of the Diocese of New York, made a careful analysis of factors in understanding emotional reactions associated with minority status.


A proposal that our immigration policies be changed to admit individuals of worth and skill rather than quotas from geographical areas, was made by William S.  Bernard of the National Committee on Postwar immigration Policy.  Mr.  Bernard spoke at a meeting sponsored jointly by the American Federation of International Institutes, the Common Council for American Unity, and the National Council on Naturalization and Citizenship.  His proposal was based on his objection to our present policy of keeping out “those we do not like,” rather than encouraging “those who might prove to be an asset to society.”

Edward Corsi, commissioner of industry of New York State, also appearing on this program, charged that our immigration laws “rest upon discrimination between nation and action…and on the basis of race.”

In Other Countries

Private agencies participating in the foreign relief program have a big job to do in helping indigenous agencies rebuild themselves, according to Joe F.  Rich who spoke at a special meeting of the American Friends Service Committee.  Mr.  Rich, associate secretary of the organization, reported that much f the funds now being administered by the committee in farming areas are being used for food for students, with the aim of helping to build up intelligent leadership.  Mr.  Heidi Warris, professor of social work at the University of Helsinki, suggested in a meeting of the National Federation of Settlements, that settlements in the United States “adopt” European settlements in order to help rebuild them.

The establishment of an international welfare organization was urged by John E.  Dula, former UNRRA deputy director of welfare in Greece.  Speaking before a session of the childcare section, Mr. Dula said that the UNRRA welfare program has proved the need for an international organization and that social workers should urge action in that direction.  Painting a vivid and specific picture of the extent of famine and its effect on European children, Mr.  Dula said that he was “distrubed by the relative complacency of people in this country” in the fact of the imminent death at twenty million children from hunger.

In contrast, the children of Central and South American are receiving after care each year, reported Alice Shaffer, chief of the welfare branch of the State Department’s division on international labor.  She said that former of these countries there was increasing government aid for maternal and child health programs, and that great emphasis was being put on training health and welfare workers.

Social Action

Alderman Mary Birchard, sent by the city council of Toronto, Canada, as a delegate to the Conference, told Survey Midmonthly editors that as a “lawmaker” she was interested in the Conference emphasis on legislation.  “People often overlook the fact that it’s way to get things done,” she said.

Mrs.  Birchard’s interest can well be shared by anyone who is wondering what part social work will play in shaping the things to come.  As he has been mentioned, there was scarcely a session of this Conference which did not include discussion of some piece of legislation which was closely related to the subject at hand.  Other meetings were devoted to discussion of social action as a method, as well as a responsibility.

Under the general title, “Social Welfare at the Crossroads,” the Joint Committee of Trade Unions in Social Work sponsored one such meeting which was addressed by Alfred H.  Katz of the Workers Personal Service Bureau of Brooklyn, N.  Y.  In this meeting it was stressed that social agencies needed to work closely with the “consumers” they serve.  Mr.  Katz urged these agencies to be more accessible, and more democratic.  He felt that this becomes true, agencies will “find themselves getting into the social action of the day.”

Practical ways in which family agencies might live up to their legally constituted responsibility “to give community leadership in the improvement of social conditions which directly affect family life,” were suggested by Mildred Kilinski of the Washington, D.  C., Family Service Association.  Mrs.  Kilipski speaking at an FWAA session, said that case records which show what happened to people during the period from pre-depression days to the current reconversion days could have been put to good use in enlisting support for the full employment bill.

A report on an unusually interesting social action project  was given by Helen Hall of Henry Street Settlement, New York City.  Speaking at a meeting of the National Federation of Settlements.  Miss Hall described the process of organization of the Conference of Unfinished Business in Social Legislation held in Washington in early May (see Survey Graphic, June 1946).  Miss Hall evaluated the results of the conference in terms of the “grass roots response,” showing that the stimulation and education of the participants.

A report of this “stock-taking” conference would not be complete without a stock-taking note or two on what was revealed during the week about the profession as a whole.  In the opinion of these writers, it was plain that social work has gained in confidence, unity, and perspective.

Moving out from under the mantel of charity, social work has progressed on its way to becoming a galaxy of community services, existing for the common welfare and increasingly accepted by all citizens.  It is part of the daily lives of more people in this country than ever before.  Finding a place of its own has meant the growth of genuine confidence within the profession, and consequent slow crumbling of the no-longer-needed ivory tower.

The threads of unity which are being woven into the fabric of our profession were discernible.  Concentration on the profession core of the job, often undertaken in the part on the basis of mixed motivations, was more strongly based here on the common interests of all social workers, and on the acceptance of a common purpose.  Recognition of the nerd to plan together—as a community, as a state, and as a nation—though it appeared in many spots in terms of special groups or specific problems, rather than planning for total needs and services, was nevertheless a marked trend.

Finally, reconvening as it did at a time when all human beings struggle to grasp the meaning of life in an atomic age, and the important of world citizenship responsibility, one might have expected the Conference to meet with some measure of doubt, indecision, or dismay.  It might have been anticipated that these conferees would need a shot in the arm, a pat on the back, or a stirring clarion call.  For they, too, have earned the right to war weariness, and the tasks ahead of them are gigantic.  But if there had been a “pause for reconversion,” it has long since passed, for these delegates were right in there pitching, and all eyes were on the ball.

They seemed to have accepted the fact that, as Mr.  Pray pointed out in his opening address, their daily business came closest to the real storm center of our troubled world; and in accepting it, had seen that it was their responsibility each to put his job into perspective with the whole—and then simply to learn do a better job.

Remembering the assurance and determination of these social workers, one feels that perhaps, in a deeper sense, it could be called a “hell and high water conference,” after all.

Source: Survey Associates Records. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Social Welfare History Archives. Minneapolis, MN: