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Abstract

In this article we critically examine the radical views and actions of Mary van Kleeck during the Great Depression. As the Director of Industrial Studies for the Russell Sage Foundation, van Kleeck was arguably the most prominent radical woman affiliated with social work during the Great Depression; however, current scholarship has limited her contributions to social work's radical minded rank and file movement. In this study, we redress this situation through an analysis of her work both within and without the rank and file movement. We pay special attention to her efforts to promote social planning, organized labor, and advanced technology as ways to resolve the Great Depression, and we identify how her views were distilled from social work's founding knowledge base within modern social science. We conclude by revealing both positive and negative implications of her work for contemporary social workers struggling to address various social issues associated with economic globalization, advanced technology, and America's declining commitment to the welfare state.

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