Mentona Moser (1874–1971) was a pioneer of social work in Switzerland. Following the ideas of the settlement movement, Moser initiated and contributed to fundamental social welfare activities in Zurich until the end of World War I. As a communist, from the early 1920s on, she worked on several projects of radical social work in the context of the Red Aid.
The origin of school social work in the United States is frequently traced back to the early 20th century’s visiting teachers movement. To expand on previous scholarship, school social work can be situated in the 19th century by focusing on the organizing impact of Black communities on public education during Reconstruction. First, history provides context for public education during chattel slavery and for the formation of racialized politics in education. This historical context primarily focuses on how access to education was used as a tool to stratify citizenship in the South. Next, the work of Southern Black communities, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and Northern abolition organizations advanced efforts during Reconstruction, specifically the coalition-building to establish Freedmen’s Schools and the advocacy to make education a publicly funded institution. Thus, coalition-building and policy advocacy within school social work’s practice history have the potential to impact contemporary school social work practice.
Since the Progressive Era, social workers have played important roles in political struggles and social movements for social justice. They have advocated for, designed, and implemented an array of domestic and international social policies and have increasingly campaigned for and held political office. Even so, there has been considerable ambivalence within the profession about the extent to which social workers should engage in political action, considered by some to be “radical” social work. A major challenge facing the profession during the 21st century is to ensure that social work programs and associations prepare students and practitioners to understand the impact of political processes on their and their clients’ lives and to develop the skills to identify the forms of political intervention that are effective for different goals and different political, social, and economic contexts.
Catheleen Jordan and David Cory
Mary “Ski” Hunter (1937–2015) was an award-winning teacher, author, and advocate for women’s issues, especially in the LGBT population. She was passionate about dispelling myths, misogyny, and homophobia, and she wrote and lectured about empowerment strategies for social workers.