Charlotte Towle Impact On Social Work

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Charlotte Towle was born in 1896 and raised in Brute, Montana, which was a large mining town at that time. Her family would often talk about social issues such as labor and management (Boman, 2001). This upbringing got her interested in social issues, but she majored in Education at Goucher College, graduating in 1919 (Lardner, 2014). Working at The American Red Cross, her interest in social work issues was renewed. Quickly she began working at many other social services agencies such as the Veteran’s Bureau and a hospital in Tacoma. Washington (Boman). She did not feel called to the standard casework approach, but more captivated by the psychological method. Therefore she continued her education at New York School of Social Work by receiving…show more content…
Charlotte wrote this manual for the Bureau of Public Assistance guiding employees of the bureau on the importance of recognizing behavior patterns and administering assistance programs. Knowing that mental, environmental and social needs are all related (SSA, 2007). Towle believed that all humans have a right to food, shelter and health care, which she stated in her book Common Human Needs, written in 1945. (Boman, 2001). Although the book was well received, it got much more attention six years after it was published when a phrased she used in it was accused of promoting socialism (Lardner, 2014). While the publisher, the Federal Security Agency (FSA), was pressured by the American Medical Association to take action, Oscar Ewing, the FSA administrator, ordered the printing offices to destroy all remaining copies. The out-rage was almost instantaneous, Towle’s co-workers at the Social Service Administration, the American Association of Social Workers, even President Truman spoke out against Oscar Ewing. This nationwide stand came to be known as “The Common Human Needs Affair”. Even with the wide-spread protest Ewing did not back down, eventually the National Association of Social Workers did republish the book (Lardner, 2014). Towle’s achievements continued throughout her life, even after retiring she continued to receive recognition for her outstanding impact on the field of social work. While she remained at the University of Chicago until her retirement, her curriculum had an impact in social work schools across the United States and even in
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