Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Maria Dinis

Second Advisor

Maria Brown

Third Advisor

Julie Nohner


This historical thesis analyzed records and archival information regarding feminism in American social work by contrasting two key historical figures, Mary Richmond and Jane Addams who were considered the matriarchs of the social work movement in the earliest part of the 20th century. The study examined the accomplishments of Ms. Addams and Ms. Richmond, their backgrounds and philosophies that helped shape their feminism, beliefs, and political work and the impact it had on social work as a profession. The research gathered attempted to answer the question of whether the work done by these two women meets the current criteria of liberal feminism. That criteria being the support of a woman's capacity to reason, individuality, right to education, economic success, citizenship rights and political equality, reproductive rights and availability of social services. According to the research, Jane Addams and Mary Richmond do meet the definition of liberal feminism according to Saulnier (1996) through their work, self-report and the information gathered from other researchers. The implications for social work practice and policy are discussed.


SC 11.MSW.1999.Reum.E

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Social Work Commons