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Bruno, Frank J.

in: People

Frank J. Bruno (1874-1955): Social Work Educator, Administrator and Author


Introduction: Throughout his career, Frank Bruno was active in many liberal movements and his conception of social work was broad.  He was one of the first men trained in the concepts of the Charity Organization Societies to speak out in favor of governmental responsibility for public assistance and social insurance.  He was a firm believer in civil rights and developed opportunities for blacks to receive social work training.  He was the author of many books and articles; one of the most influential was Trends in Social Work as reflected in the Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work, 1874-1946.

Career: Frank John Bruno was born in Italy and brought to the United States at the age of two. He received a BA from Williams College in 1899 and a BST from Yale Divinity School in 1902.  After five years as a minister of Congregational churches in Connecticut and Colorado he entered social work in 1907 as general agent of the Associated Charities in Colorado Springs.

In 1911, Bruno joined the staff of the New York Charity Organization Society.  He did graduate work at the New York School of Philanthropy (now the Columbia University School of Social Work), where he was greatly influenced by Mary Richmond.  In 1914 he was appointed general secretary of the Associated Charities of Minneapolis (which later became the Family Welfare Association) and held this position for 11 years.  During this period he also lectured at the University of Minnesota, where he was acting chairman of Sociology and Social Work, 1919-22.

During World War I, Bruno directed civilian relief for the Northern District of the American Red Cross.  From 1925 to 1945 he was professor of applied sociology and head of the Department of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, which later became the George Warren Brown Brown School of Social Work.  After his retirement from administrative work, Bruno continued to teach until 1952.

Bruno’s leadership was first demonstrated at the state level as president of the Minnesota Conference of Social Work and the Missouri Association of Social Work.  He soon assumed leadership roles at the national level.  In 1927, he was chairman of the 50th Anniversary Committee of the Conference of Family Life in America Today.  Later, Bruno was president of the American Association of Social Workers (1928-30) and of the National Conference of Social Work (1932-33).

Source: Encyclopedia of Social Work, 17th Edition, National Association of Social Workers, Washington, DC 20005. (Vol. I, pp.90-91).

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): National Association of Social Workers (1983). Frank J. Bruno (1874-1955): Social work educator, administrator and author. Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved [date accessed] from