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Office of News and Information
212 Whitehead Hall / 3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-2692
Phone: (410) 516-7160 / Fax (410) 516-5251

April 24, 1995
CONTACT: Christine A. Rowett

Hopkins Collection Reflects History of Social Work

In the 1800s, they were called "friendly visitors." Today, they are volunteers and social workers. Back then, they were concerned with struggling single-parent families, child abuse, unemployment and addictions. In 1995, they still are.

Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland, a non-profit outreach agency, has been through numerous name changes and transitions in the past 146 years. But in many ways, it has remained the same.

Its history is depicted in distinct detail in the agency's meticulously kept archives, recently donated to the Johns Hopkins University's Milton S. Eisenhower Library. An exhibited portion of the collection was unveiled at a fund-raiser for Family and Children's Services earlier this month at the George Peabody Library at the Peabody Institute.

Hopkins manuscript curator Joan Grattan was given the task of reviewing the massive files, and said what she found was a history lesson on social services in Baltimore. "Early on, there was an association with poverty and immorality," Grattan said. "We are more open and not quite as judgmental today."

Grattan spent a year cataloging the collection. In its present form, she said, it may be useful to researchers, historians and sociologists in a variety of fields.

Family and Children's Services executive director Stanley A. Levi said the records indicate recurring social problems. "The issues of the early 1900s are still with us," he said. "It's a further endorsement of the fact that we have to stop looking at quick fixes.

"We know that things like abuse and violence are generational," he added. "Once they start, they are difficult to stop without thorough intervention."

Family and Children's Services oversees more than 20 outreach offices in the Baltimore area. A United Way agency, it offers a range of services, including family counseling, adoption services and elder care.

The agency is, in fact, the result of the consolidation of several agencies; the Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor, one of the first service organizations in the country, was formed in 1849. Others that have merged to form the current agency include the Society for the Protection of Children from Cruelty and Immorality, the Shelter for Aged and Infirm Colored Persons and the Charity Organization Society, which then-Hopkins president Daniel Coit Gilman helped establish in 1881.

The Family Welfare Association--another merged organization--was at one time housed in Hopkins' original McCoy Hall on West Monument Street. When that building was destroyed by a fire in 1919, the agency moved to the Old Fountain Hotel.

After the April 12 unveiling, the entire collection will be available for viewing at the MSE Library. Due to confidentiality issues, some restrictions and qualifications for viewing the collection will apply. For information on viewing the records, contact Special Collections at 516-8348.

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