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UBC Theses and Dissertations

J.S. Woodsworth : a study and evaluation of his contribution to modern social work, its principles and concepts Robertson, Myrtle Eleanor


The purpose of this thesis is two-fold: first, a biographical sketch of J. S. Woodsworth's life and career has been made in an attempt to see his work, its underlying philosophy, goals and methods in relation to modem social work. And secondly, an attempt has been made to place some evaluation on the contribution made by J. S. Woodsworth to Canadian social work. The material used has been drawn from published biographies of J. S. Woodsworth, sane of his personal writings, magazine and newspaper articles, Reports of the Official Debates of the House of Commons, letters from relatives and contemporaries acquainted with his work. Modern social work principles, concepts and goals have teen drawn together from current professional social work publications. The Introduction describes the purpose, method and focus of the study. It also outlines the current social work principles and concepts against which J. S. Woodsworth1 s work is to be examined. Chapter I gives a biographical sketch of Mr. Woodsworth's life, pointing up the influences and motivations leading to a career of social reform and statesmanship. It describes the social and economic conditions of Canada as the background against which this career developed. Chapter II discusses J. S. Woodsworth's activities as a social worker, first under the auspices of the Methodist Church and later in organized social work under -the Canadian Welfare League and the Bureau of Social Research. His rejection of wartime National Service Registration resulted in dismissal. The attitude of his contemporaries and subsequent reaction of the social work profession is discussed in relation to this. Chapter III deals with Woodsworth's Parliamentary years, his goals, methods and legislative achievements. This is discussed under three main topics - Civil Rights reform, Amendment of Canada's Constitution, and Social Reform legislation. Mr. Wocdsworth was the first consistent advocate of the social insurances which are now accepted as routine and of some which are still considered in advance of our time. His tangible achievements were less important than the influence which he exerted both inside Parliament and out, toward progressive social change. The method of study, research and public education was followed. The goal of bringing about conditions which would make possible a full and creative life for all, was unchanging. Chapter IV attempts to draw together the principles underlying J. S. Woodsworth's activities, to show that these were in line with modern social welfare principles, and discusses his basic contribution to social work in Canada.

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