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One Hundred Years of Social Work

A History of the Profession in English Canada, 1900–2000

Therese Jennissen and Colleen Lundy

Paper 378 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-186-3

Release Date: February 2011

Online discount: 25%

$38.99  $29.24


eBook availability

One Hundred Years of Social Work is the first comprehensive history of social work as a profession in English Canada. Organized chronologically, it provides a critical and compelling look at the internal struggles and debates in the social work profession over the course of a century and investigates the responses of social workers to several important events. A central theme in the book is the long-standing struggle of the professional association (the Canadian Association of Social Workers) and individual social workers to reconcile advancement of professional status with the promotion social action.

The book chronicles the early history of the secularization and professionalization of social work and examines social workers roles during both world wars, the Depression, and in the era of postwar reconstruction. It includes sections on civil defence, the Cold War, unionization, social work education, regulation of the profession, and other key developments up to the end of the twentieth century.

Drawing on extensive archival research as well as personal interviews and secondary literature, the authors provide strong academic evidence of a profession that has endured many important changes and continues to advocate for a just society and a responsive social welfare state.

One Hundred Years of Social Work will be of interest to social workers, social work students and educators, social historians, professional associations and anyone interested in understanding the complex nature of people and institutions.

Therese Jennissen teaches in the area of social policy and social welfare/social work history at Carleton University. She has published work on the gender dimensions of occupational health and safety in the workplace, workers compensation in Canada, and women and social policy. With Colleen Lundy, she has published on the impact of economic transformations on women in Cuba and Russia.

Colleen Lundy is a social work professor at Carleton University. Her book Social Work and Social Justice: A Structural Approach to Practice makes an important contribution to the understanding of social work from a social justice/human rights perspective. She is the editor of Canadian Social Work and the Canadian North America representative on the International Federation of Social Workers Human Rights Commission.


“In One Hundred Years of Social Work, the authors provide a nuanced narrative, informed by a combination of feminist theory, critical theory, and political economy. They have mined all the secondary literature and done extensive archival work as well as many interviews with living key players. This is a book of very sound scholarship.... Because the book is thoroughly documented, it will serve for many years to come as the standard book in the social work field to trace and analyze the history of social workers in the twentieth century. But the writing is jargon-free and the book should serve equally well as an important work for anyone studying the evolution of social policy in Canada or the evolution of professions in the country.”

— Alvin Finkel, author of Social Policy and Practice in Canada: A History (WLU Press, 2006)

“This book is essential reading for anyone interested in Canadian social policy. Through meticulous research the authors provide the first comprehensive history of social work professionalization in Canada. In telling this story they shed critical light on the ambiguous role the profession has played during both the formation and unravelling of Canada’s welfare state. Centred principally on the activities of the Canadian Association of Social Workers this well-written history skilfully explores the tension between social activism and professional recognition within an occupation located at the crossroads of social justice.”

— James Struthers, Canadian Studies Department, Trent University

One Hundred Years of Social Work is the only text that attempts to deal exclusively with the historical development of the profession. It is clearly written and represents a significant contribution to social work literature in this country.... It provides an excellent history of the CASW and it sets social work within the context of broader political and economic events that influenced and affected the development of the Canadian welfare state. Jennissen and Lundy have created a useful resource for social workers including university faculty members, students, practitioners, regulators, professional associations, and agency managers.”

— Glen Schmidt, University of Northern British Columbia, Labour/Le Travail