|dc.description.abstract||The study of social welfare pioneers in social work education is important in forming a foundation of understanding the origins of the profession for future social work practitioners and educators. Understanding our past determines actively our ability to understand our present. Social work as a profession directly impacts and influences the lives of people of all different racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds; however, the social work pioneers that current social work education focuses on are predominantly White, Christian, and American. Research to date has started to focus on uncovering pioneering work that was conducted in some minority communities, but there are still large gaps in the literature that this study hopes to fill.
This study examined the work that late 19th century African American social welfare pioneers were doing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The goal was to bring to light the fact that social work was in fact being done by more than just White, Christian men and women during the time period that social work was becoming a profession. The purpose of this study was to describe, critique, and discuss the roles assumed by African American social change agents during the Progressive Era in the late 19th century in the struggle for social rights, human rights, social and humanitarian service delivery for freed slaves and Blacks in Philadelphia, PA. There were four research questions directing this study: (a) what roles did late 19th century African American social change agents play in the struggle for social rights, human rights, and service delivery for freed slave and Blacks in Philadelphia, PA.? (b) what were the social service delivery systems that were developed and used by the early African American social welfare pioneers in Philadelphia, PA? (c) did these initiatives have any correspondence or parallels with other movements during this period? and (d) what, if any, cross racial alliances were negotiated and what bridges if any were built between Black and White reformers?
This historical qualitative study utilized an approach from the social change theoretical base and included in-depth and extensive examination of documents and artifacts from social welfare change agents in Philadelphia, PA. The sample included documents and artifacts that had been previously categorized as being from African American men, women and organizations that were advocates for social change during the late 19th century.
Analysis led to the conclusion that the work that was done in the Black community was just as important and relevant to social work as a profession as the work that was being done in the White community. This work deserves to be discussed and examined just as much as the work that currently dominates social work education. Recommendations for refinements of the analysis, implications on social work education, future evaluation and research are discussed.||