Contrary to the view that social work has been characterized by substantial shifts in treatment methods over the last hundred years, an historical study of case records from child protection agencies in Boston, 1880 to 1960, revealed very little improvement or change in the social-work response to family violence cases. The continuity in socialwork response rested, at its best, on workers' common-sense apprehension of the complex (intrapsychic, relational, and environmental) causes of family violence, and, at worst, on several constricting ideologies about proper family life: gender assumptions that made women's domesticity and mothering essential; and a public/private dichotomy which assumed that the stable family must be economically selfsupporting.