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History of Social Policy  

This guide will help you get started doing research on historic social welfare legislation. It is based in part on a guide created by Natalie Borisovets from Rutgers University.
Last Updated: Jul 12, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Getting Started Print Page

Not sure where to start your research?

Articles in scholarly encyclopedias and books usually present a good overview of the topic and identify the current issues, approaches, and scholarship relating to that topic. Knowing the issues can help you focus your research on a particular aspect of a topic.


Legal Resources

Gale Encyclopedia of American Law (14 vols.). 3rd ed. Farmington Hill, MI: Gale/Cengage Learning, 2011.
Call Number: R 349.7303 Gal


Getting Started

Encyclopedia of Social Welfare History in North America. John M. Herrick and Paul H. Stuart (eds.). Thousand Oakes, California: Sage Publications, 2005.
Contains 180 essays, most signed, on the people, topics, and organizations that were important to the development of social welfare policies, services, and institutions in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Most entries have suggestions for "Further Reading," and many include references to relevant primary source collections as well as to published primary sources.

Encyclopedia of Social Work. 20th edition. New York: National Association of Social Workers, 2008.
Almost always a good place to begin your research. About 400 lengthy signed articles with bibliographies on topics felt to be of particular relevance of social work, as well as 200 brief biographies of key figures in the history of social work. Many articles include a historical overview.
Call Number: R 360.973 En 2008

Biographical Dictionary of Social Welfare in America. Walter I. Trattner. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.
The essays are readable and provide an overview of the biographee's life, career, and significance for American social welfare.
Call Number: R 923.61 BIO

From Poor Law to Welfare State. 6th edition. Walter I. Trattner. New York: The Free Press, 1999.
Trattner provides in-depth examination of developments in child welfare, public health, and the evolution of social work as a profession, showing how all these changes affected the treatment of the poor and needy in America. He explores the impact of public policies on social workers and other helping professions -- all against the backdrop of social and intellectual trends in American history.
Call Number: 362.580973 Tra

Who Created This Research Guide?

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Amy Schlumpf Manion

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