About the Project

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The Smith College Special Collections and the School for Social Work (SSW) collaborated to create this website in order to commemorate the first training school for social workers in the United States. The SSW has provided 100 years of clinical excellence, rigorous research, and educational innovation.

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Vida Simenas Grayson, B.A. 1957, M.S.S. 1960, saw the vital link between the SSW and the social work profession. She launched the “Social Work Archive” to preserve “for historical research the papers and interviews of leaders in social work education and practice.” She began to interview important social work professionals, transcribe the interviews, and house the recordings and transcriptions in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College. At the 65th Anniversary of the SSW, she wrote that the Social Work Archive would “document the building blocks of our theory of practice. The collection will encompass the pivotal figures, both men and women, who through their writings, teaching or clinical work, advanced the basic concepts of social work practice. The individuals selected will not be limited to Smith graduates, but since the School’s history is closely linked with leaders in social work education, a number of Smith alumni and faculty members will be represented.”

You will find the fruits of Grayson’s dedicated work to build the Social Work Archive in these pages.

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Unless otherwise noted, Lauren L. Anderson collected the documents, edited the videos and recordings, and wrote the explanatory notes for this exhibit. She has a Ph.D. in African American History from Michigan State University, was an assistant professor at Luther College in Decorah, IA, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Kentucky. She is currently working with the Smith College Special Collections to create this website.

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Share your Stories!

Have documents and multi-media important to the history of social work? Contact us today to discuss donating it to the Social Work Archive!