History, social work, Simon Patten, settlements, profession


The origin of the term “social work” has long been misattributed to the 1907 work of economist Simon Patten. While Patten’s contribution to social work is important, though mostly forgotten, the term had been used long before regarding the work of nuns and settlement workers. Quoting archival and historical findings, this article traces the origin, evolution, and widespread use of the term “social work.” The words of the early founders of social work are utilized to tell the story of how the work of persons doing “the social work” of the church or settlement evolved into the name of the profession. These shifts in terminology in social work’s early history have influenced the subsequent direction of the field up to the present day.

Off-campus users:

You may need to log in to your campus proxy before being granted access to the full-text above.

Included in

Social Work Commons