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History of Social Work

Social work practice has been around for many years. The earliest origins date back to the middle ages with church-based ministering to the poor. This would later evolve into the start of the social justice movements in the 19th century. Now, social work has evolved into a practice that is widely used, practiced and appreciated by so many.

In the mid 19th century, there was a push for reform in regards to the growing number of social injustices. With the growth of industrialization and urbanization, it was more important than ever to help those who needed it. With the growing number of homeless, poor and those with mental illness, social work was needed more than ever. The American social work profession was established in the late 19th century to ensure that immigrants and other vulnerable people gained tools and skills to escape economic and social poverty.

The first social work class was offered at Columbia University in 1898. Since then, social workers have worked to bring societal issues to the public’s attention. As time progressed, social work became more and more important to everyday lives. The profession has gown immensely and in 1955, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) was founded. It was created through a merge of several different social work organizations; American Association of Social Workers, American Association of Medical Social Workers, American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers, National Association of School Social Workers, American Association of Group Workers, Association for the Study of Community Organization and Social Work Research Group. The NASW has chapters in every state in the United States, plus Washington, D.C., New York City, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and an international chapter.

Social work is an ever-growing field that aims to help people in their personal and interpersonal lives in order to achieve social improvement, and pursues social change to benefit a wide variety of individuals, families and communities. To learn more about social work and the NASW, visit the links below.

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