Family Service Association of America records
Scope and Content
The Family Service Association of America (FSAA) records provide an unusually detailed picture of social conditions and social work agency programs in the United States and Canada throughout most of the twentieth century, at both the national and local levels. Among the topics represented are the evolution of social work in general and family casework (more recently known as clinical social work) in particular. The records are also a source for studying social services during wartime, unemployment, public relief during the Great Depression, cooperation between public and private sector programs, homelessness, housing, and professional education for social work. The association had affiliated member agencies in small as well as large cities across the U.S. and Canada. As a result, the records document programs and conditions in more than just major urban centers to a greater degree than any other collection held by the Social Welfare History Archives.
The records have been organized into seven series, which divide logically into two major categories: administrative recordsthat reflect the organization's policy and direction; and agency filesthat reflect local programs and conditions.
Series 1 (Administrative) and Series 2 (Subjects) reflect the national and international perspective of the parent association. The series documents FSAA's big-picture policies, decision-making, and various activities intended to promote and encourage the development of social services for families and individuals in response to perceived social and economic needs. Included in these materials are the records of policy-making boards and committees, conference proceedings, departmental and project files, and subject files formed around topics of significant concern to the association and its member agencies.
The bulk of the remaining records, Series 3-6, provide information on local programs and conditions in the form of correspondence with local agencies executives, reports of visits by field representatives and staff, surveys of local conditions and programs, and annual statistical reports filed by local member agencies. Records in each of these series are arranged first by state, thereunder by city, and then by local agency. As noted above, to a unique degree, they represent a detailed picture of programs and conditions in localities - both large and smaller cities - across the U.S. and Canada throughout most of the twentieth century.
The final series, Regional Committees and Conferences, serves to bridge the two main categories by documenting information sharing and discussion of professional concerns at a regional level.
The FSAA records contain a wide variety of typed, written, and published paper document types, including correspondence and memoranda, meeting minutes, reports and studies, conference proceedings, public relations materials, and financial records. There are very few photographs or other types of audio-visual materials.
- Majority of material found within ( 1920-1970)
Language of Materials
Use of Materials
Open for use in Social Welfare History Archives reading room.
Please contact the archivist for copyright information.
The Family Service Association of America began in 1911 as the American Association for Organizing Charity, and was later known as the Family Welfare Association of America. It promotes, sets standards for, and serves as a vehicle for communication among social work agencies that provide casework and related services.
The Family Service Association of America (FSAA) was formed in as an independent national organization in 1911. Representing the effort to promote and coordinate the charity organization movement in cities throughout the U.S. and Canada, it grew out of meetings at the annual National Conference of Charities and Correction as well as the work of the Russell Sage Foundation's Charity Organization Department. The organization's name has evolved frequently: National Association of Societies for Organizing Charity (1911-1912); American Association of Societies for Organizing Charities (1912-1917); American Association for Organizing Charities (1917-1919); American Association for Organizing Family Social Work (1919-1930); Family Welfare Association of America (1930-1946); Family Service Association of America (1946-1983); Family Service America (1983-1993); Alliance for Children and Families, part of Families International, Inc. (1993-2014), and, in 2014 Allinace for Strong Families and Communities. After operating out of offices in New York City for 70 years, the organization moved its headquarters to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the mid-1980s.
The association's constituency consisted of agencies with a focus on casework, counseling, and other social services to families. These agencies were primarily voluntary sector, but included government agencies as well. Concern over social and economic conditions facing its member agencies' clients led the association to undertake a number of studies, beginning in 1922 with a Committee on Industrial Problems to deal with rising unemployment. The organization's concern with public welfare led it to create other committees such as the Homeless Committee (1920-1932), Committee on Relief Problems (1926-1933), Housing and Subsistence Committee (1934-1935), and a more general Public Issues Committee (1953-1968). After World War II, FSAA supported the development of counseling, psychiatric, and casework services designed to meet the specialized needs of seniors and children.
FSAA programs during the 1960s and 1970s reflected the social issues of that era. In 1965, the association began Project ENABLE, a government-funded demonstration project to test the efficacy of neighborhood coalitions as a means to combat the causes of poverty. Working with the Child Welfare League of America, it established the National Association on Services to Unmarried Parents. During the early 1970s, the FSAA thoroughly investigated the possibility of merging with the Child Welfare League of America and the Florence Crittenton Association of America, but ultimately it decided to continue its independent existence. FSAA and CWLA were involved in founding the Council on Accreditation for Services for Families and Children (COA) between 1973 and 1976. The COA, which operated briefly as a joint body of CWLA and the FSAA, became an independent entity in 1977.
In addition to its other programs, FSAA published a monthly journal, The Family, which began publication in 1920. It subsequently became Journal of Social Caseworkin 1946 and Social Caseworkin 1950. The association also published a newsletter entitled Highlights (later Family Service Highlights) between 1940 and 1971.
Sources The information in this notes comes from the following sources:
- Peter Romanofsky, ed., Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Institutions: Social Service Organizations, Greenwood: Westport, CT, 1978, vol. 1, pp. 302 306.)
- Family Service Association of America records, Social Welfare History Archives
- Child Welfare League of America records, Social Welfare History Archives
- Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. “History.” Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, www.alliance1.org/web/about/History/web/about/alliance-history.aspx.
313 Linear Feet
Records the Family Service Association of America, a national social service organization that promoted, set standards for, and served as a vehicle for communication among social work agencies that provide casework, counseling, and related services for families and individuals. Included are board and committee minutes, annual reports, national and regional conference proceedings, departmental and project files, membership and financial records, and subject files. These document the evolution of social work in general and family casework in particular. The records are also a source for studying social services during wartime, unemployment, public relief during the Great Depression, cooperation between public and private sector programs, and professional education for social work. Field representatives' reports, and correspondence with member agencies provide a detailed picture of social work programs and social conditions in cities across the U.S. and Canada throughout most of the twentieth century.
The Family Service Association of America records are arranged into seven series:
- Series 1. Administrative
- Series 2. Subjects
- Series 3. Pre-1950 Agency Correspondence
- Series 4. Post-1950 Agency Correspondence
- Series 5. Yearly Agency Reports
- Series 6. Surveys
- Series 7. Regional Committees and Conferences
Other Finding Aid
Unpublished inventories available. Please contact the Archives for more information.
The records were a gift from the Family Service Association of America. The initial shipment consisted of about 143 linear feet of administrative, subject and agency files received in April 1986. Supplemental gifts of agency files were received between 2000 and 2002.
Processing and Finding Aid Information
The initial gift of Family Service Association of America records was arranged and described by Archives staff in 1989-1990, primarily by graduate assistant Jon Thares Davidann and student assistant, Shaun Cassity. The additional agency materials were given temporary arrangement and housing and preliminary inventories were created by student assistants Andrea Good, Josh Anderson, and Michael Massey. In 2006, Archives staff arranged and inventoried the agency materials and created sequential box numbers for the entire collection. This new information has been incorporated into the online finding aid for the records.
Formerly, the three different shipments of Family Service Association of America records were described in separate finding aids and file lists, making it necessary for patrons to consult multiple documents in order to obtain complete information on the records. As part of a project to mount finding aids online, the Archives has merged the information about the FSAA records into one comprehensive finding aid.
- American Association for Organizing Charity.
- Charity organization -- United States -- History -- Archives. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Family Service Association of America
- Family Welfare Association of America.
- Family services -- United States -- History -- Archives. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Public welfare -- United States -- History -- Archives. Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Social case work -- United States -- History -- Archives. Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Family Service Association of America records
- Jon Davidann, revised by Linnea Anderson and David Klaassen
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- 4/21/2020: revised bioghist and other minor edits