The American Public Welfare Association's records offer researchers material regarding public welfare officials' collective efforts to improve themselves and the legislation they must administer. Even though the collection dates from 1930-1970, most of the material hails from the 1950s-1960s.
The collection consists of minutes, correspondence, memoranda, reports, publications, speeches, statements and news clippings generated or collected by APWA.
The collection is organized into three series: Administration, Activities and Reference. The Administration series includes minutes of board of directors and committee meetings plus supporting documentation in addition to the proceedings of conferences and seminars. If the Administration series is considered the records from "inside" the organization, then the Activities series can be thought of as the records generated as a result of APWA's efforts that extended into the "outside" world: legislative activities, publications and other projects. The Reference series includes misc. information and speeches that do not directly relate to APWA's work. APWA's publications and directories are filed in the Social Welfare History Archives' ephemera collection.
The collection has several strengths, chief among them the legislative files. Although APWA headquarters were in Chicago between 1932-1974, the organization maintained a Washington D.C. office staffed by a representative who followed legislation of interest to APWA and occasionally spoke on behalf of the organization. Elizabeth Wickenden served as legislative representative until 1951, when she was succeeded by Marie Lane. Harold Hagen succeeded Lane in 1963.
The legislative files provide a picture of the breadth of APWA's legislative interests: particularly the development of Social Security legislation between 1950-1962. Correspondence between APWA's Executive Director Loula Dunn, Washington representatives Wickenden and Lane, and members of Congress and various public officials provide insight into the APWA's efforts and positions on behalf of Social Security.
Other legislative topics that are well documented are health and medical assistance bills, intergovernmental relations, juvenile delinquency, migratory labor, and reciprocal support of dependents.
APWA's efforts to educate its members while giving public officials a chance to convene and compare experiences are well documented in the conferences and seminars sub-series. Most of the papers that were delivered at APWA regional and national conventions between 1953-1961 are included, and these speeches provide an idea of public welfare workers' concerns and interests over time.
In addition to the legislative files and the papers of conferences and seminars, APWA's efforts in the fields of medical care, Aid to Dependent Children, and aging are documented. Additionally, APWA closely followed the controversial public assistance plan of Newburgh, NY. The researcher can follow this controversy through correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, public statements, and press releases.
With the exception of the board of director's minutes dating from 1930-1963, the collection is weak in documenting APWA's internal administration. No financial, legal, or personal records are included. Committee records are scant.
Besides staff members Executive Director Loula Dunn, Elizabeth Wickenden, Marie Lane, Harold Hagen, Pearl Bierman, medical care consultant; and Guy Justis, the executive director who succeeded Dunn; the collection contains a variety of material from federal, state and local public officials. They include Katharine Lenroot, Wilbur Cohen, Oveta Culp Hobby, William Mitchell, Katherine Oettinger, Raymond Houston, Val M. Keating, Robert Lansdale, Norman Lourie, Agnes Meyer, Harry O. Page, Jay L. Roney, Charles Schottland, John Tramburg and Ellen Winston. Little information regarding former APWA Executive Directors Frank Band (1931-1936), Fred Hoehler (1936-1943) and Howard Russell (1943-1949) is included.