The development of social work practice dates back to the Civil War era. During the era, women participated in providing nursing care to the wounded soldiers and charitable organizations rose to address social problems like poverty, crime and health issues.
The American Civil War drastically evolved the role of women in society. The women managed households when men were away on war. The women also acted as nurses as they provided medical support and care to the wounded soldiers (Goodman, 2009). Indeed, the active involvement and public exposure of women during the Civil War accelerated the development of social work profession. The medical conditions of wounded and sick soldiers witnessed by the women prompted them to provide essential care services.
The desire to address social problems like poverty, crime, and family dependency led to the development of the social work profession. The charity organizations introduced effective administration of welfare programs and humanitarian reforms. Providing care to the poor, disabled, mentally ill and orphans remained the central focus of charity organizations (Wood, 2008). The social work practice also developed due to the need to address societal ideal demands like training, counseling and intercultural exchanges. The settlement house movement combining social advocacy and services to enhance adult training and counseling within societies.
Social justice is the value that emerged during the Civil War. Social work pioneers voiced their concerns about ethics of social justice as a government’s responsibility to its people (Reamer, 2013). Today, it is challenging to rationalize politically driven decisions regarding the provision of social programs in societies (Kwong, 2014). Social workers conclude that values have changed because values defining economic and political culture conflicts with values of the social work profession.
The Civil War accelerated the development of the social work profession. Particularly, women provided nursing care to soldiers in the battlefield. Consequently, charity organizations and settlement movements influenced social work practice as they introduced models and initiatives meant to address social justice in societies.
Goodman, R. (2009). Expanding the role of women as nurses during the American Civil War. Advances in Nursing Science, 32(1), 33-42.
Kwong, P. (2014). Back to the ‘social’ of social work: Reviving the social work profession’s contribution to the promotion of social justice. International Social Work, 57(6), 723-740.
Reamer, F. (2013). Social work values and ethics. New York: Columbia University Press.
Wood, E. (2008). The social processes of Civil War: the wartime transformation of social networks. Annual Review of Political Science, 11, 539-561.