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Abstract

This study documents the life and career of Josephine Chapin Brown, an early leader in public welfare and rural social work. Historical research showed that Brown's ideas on social work and on professional training for social work were often against the paradigm of her time. For example, Brown was a committed ruralite when social work was primarily urban; Brown supported social work training for public welfare workers in the agricultural colleges (many now state universities) when social work was committed to a more elitist training model. As a result she was ostracized by many of her influential contemporaries. Her orientation towards building coalitions with rural sociologists made her even less popular among her social work colleagues. In spite of Brown's many contributions to rural social work and public welfare, her life and works have remained undocumented by social work biographers. Because the battles she fought and lost are still current, a review of Brown's life history might not only be of historical interest but also enlighten contemporary debates.

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