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Redefining the Federal Role in Public Health, Medical Research, and Education, 1949-1960
Social Workers [28 October 1958]
Box Number: 7a
Folder Number: 8
REMARKS OF HONORABLE JOHN E. FOGARTY, M.C. 2nd CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, R.I. AS HONORED GUEST OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
SOCIAL WORKERS ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1958 AT THE LEDGEMONT COUNTRY CLUB, SEEKONK, MASS.
There is a story, I don't know how true it is, that about 175 years ago the President of Harvard University suggested
to the Dean of Harvard Medical School that written examinations be required for all medical students. The Dean replied that
it was a good idea but unfortunately it was not practical because some of the students could not write.
There have been many advances in the medical profession since then. There is general agreement regarding the education, training
qualifications and licensing of medical doctors. To some extent the same is true of lawyers.
However, we still have some professions that are in a relatively early stage of development. One of these is social work.
Who is a social worker? As far as the public is concerned, a social worker is anyone who is doing some sort of welfare work.
This presents some real problems and I will mention on of them. The legislators of this nation are drawn from all walks of
life. They can be looked upon as members of the general public who have been selected by their fellow citizens to represent
them at state capitols and in Washington. They have pretty much the same attitudes and ideas as the public at large. Briefly
this means that the laws of this country are written by men and women who have only a shadowy definition of what a social
This is worth thinking about because the appropriations for welfare purposes are large. The administration of these funds
is largely in the hands of social workers. Frankly there is a great gap between the legislators and the administrators in
this instance because there is a lack of understanding.
Some of us are aware of the work of the National Association of Social Work and the schools of social work. It is very pleasing
to know about these things because they mean that there are well-qualified people of professional caliber in the welfare field.
It means that we can have confidence that the money appropriated for social welfare will be spent effectively. But there
are still problems because it is not easy to identify a well-trained social worker as one would, for example, in the case
of lawyers or other professional people. I have wondered if the social workers with good professional training should not
adopt a more dignified and meaningful name. A pediatrician is a doctor who is interest in children - the term identifies
him immediately. In contrast to this, the person who collects old clothes for her church guild may state that she is a social
work - and she has some claim to the term because of its usage for many years.
One of my friends says that he would like to see the social workers call themselves "Socionomists" because they draw
much of their basic knowledge from the fields of sociology, social-psychology and economics. Shakespeare asked "What's
in a name?" "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." His question was interesting, but if he had asked
it at one of our Madison Avenue public relations firms, the answer would have been different. A suitable name is important.
Now I am interested in all of this because I believe that social workers are important. As our society because more complicated
we have to have adequate means of aiding people in distress. A great deal of this work must be done by social workers. They
must be trained capable people. People in whom the legislators and the public will have confidence.
Social workers have been developing a great fund of knowledge regarding how people can be helped--how many of them can be
made independent, self-supporting economic units again. Their efforts to preserve human dignity in the face of adversities
have been a truly great contribution to our civilization.
For my part, it has been a pleasure to be associated with them--to get to know them is to develop respect and admiration for
their work. I would like to express my very sincere interest in their humitarian efforts and in their future.