Research opportunities in the Social Welfare History Archives

Learn more about the types of materials in the Social Welfare History Archives, and what subjects they cover.

Collections overview

The Social Welfare History Archives (SWHA) has over 340 collections documenting human services, social issues, and the social work profession from the late 1800's to the present. Researchers from all communities and disciplines are invited to contact the archives about using these materials.

Collections in SWHA include:

  • organizational records
  • personal papers
  • print collections of social work related books, journals, and pamphlets
  • social work book and journal collections
  • prohibition and temperance print collection
  • feminist periodicals collection
  • adoption-related book collections
  • collections of print and near print materials from federal, state, and private sector organizations

The collections in SWHA reflect the wide-ranging concerns of the human services profession and related policies, organizations, and programs. They also document numerous social issues and related reform and social justice movements. The following are examples of significant subjects in SWHA, but are not a complete list. Researchers are welcome to contact the archives or search archival collection guides to find sources on their topic.

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Subjects documented in SWHA

  • Child welfare and youth work including: adoption, foster care, child development, juvenile justice, youth programs, and child protection
  • Health and mental health including: medical social work, psychiatric social work, sexual health and sex education, persons with intellectual and physical disabilities, public health, access to healthcare, visiting nurses and community clinics, nutrition, maternal and child health
  • Housing conditions, public housing, urban development, and community planning
  • Immigration, migration, displaced persons, and related laws and programs
  • Institutions and incarceration
  • Intimate partner violence and sexual assault activism, legislation, education, and systems change
  • Public- and private-sector assistance programs including: Social Security, unemployment, Medicaid, mothers’ pensions, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, as well as theories and attitudes about assistance for the elderly, poor, unemployed, and persons with disabilities
  • Public social policy and public-private sector cooperation to address social issues
  • Senior services and long term care
  • Social justice and civil rights including: programs to prevent racism and religious prejudice, the adoptee rights and birth parent movements, civil rights and voting rights, community organizing and progressive social work, and grass roots activism by public assistance clients, such as the Poor People’s Campaign and National Welfare Rights Organization
  • Social work education and the social work profession including: professional organizations, accreditation, licensing, and specialized practice areas
  • Social work with groups, including settlement houses and community centers and community-based recreation, arts, educational, and camping programs
  • Social work with individuals and families including: social casework and counseling services, single parent families, family support programs, and family counseling

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