This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Redefining the Federal Role in Public Health, Medical Research, and Education, 1949-1960
[Remarks by John E. Fogarty to the National Association of Social Workers] (October 28, 1958)
Box Number: 7a
Folder Number: 8
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,
qualification 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
[END PAGE ONE]
[BEGIN PAGE TWO]
some sort of welfare work. This presents some real problems and I will mention one 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 capitals and in Washington. They have pretty much the same attitudes and ideas
as the public at large. Briefly this means that laws of this country are written by men and women who have only a shadowy
definition of what a social worker is.
This is worth thinking about because the appropriations for welfare [ . . . ] 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 administration in
this instance because there is a
[END PAGE TWO]
[BEGIN PAGE THREE]
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
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 nurturing name. For example a pediatrician is a doctor who is interested in children -- the
term identifies him immediately. In contract to this, the person who
[END PAGE THREE]
[BEGIN PAGE FOUR]
collects old clothes for her church guild may state that she is a social worker -- and she had 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 them 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
Ave 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 becomes more complicated
we have to have adequate means of aiding people in distress.
[END PAGE FOUR]
[BEGIN PAGE FIVE]
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 many 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 the humanitarian efforts and in their future.