About The NASW Legacy Project

The NASW Legacy Project - so named for its commitment to "linking empowerment, growth, advocacy, and caring for more than 50 Years" - was created in 2001 to preserve NASW's historical record. The goal of the Project is to enable NASW to identify and preserve the photographs, books, papers, and other documents that will tell the NASW story for many decades to come. The NASW Foundation began fundraising for the Project, with support from the NASW Social Work Pioneers®, in Fall 2001. Thanks to generous support of NASW members and friends, more than $63,000 has been raised to date.

The NASW Legacy Project Archival Process

From June 2004 to October 2006, Nancy Perlman served as The NASW Legacy Project archivist.  Ms. Perlman began with a preliminary inventory of archival, manuscript, and audiovisual materials located in the NASW Library at the Washington D.C. office, and also surveyed and inventoried materials in NASW's storage facility. Additionally, she located and requested collection catalogues for related NASW records in other repositories throughout the country, including the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution which holds the NASW Centennial Collection (created in 1998 on the occasion of the 100th birthday of the social work profession). 

Ms. Perlman worked with David Klaassen, Curator of the Social Work History Archives at the University of Minnesota where much of the extant documentation of NASW and its seven predecessors is housed. The holdings at University of Minnesota, taken together with the materials housed at NASW’s National Office, provide a substantial record of the broad spectrum of historic NASW documents.

Message from NASW Archivist, Nancy Perlman

Welcome to the NASW Archives and “The NASW Legacy Project.”  One of the first tasks of the archivist in a project such as this is to research the history and evolution of the organization which created the archival records - in this case, NASW and its predecessors.

First NASW Delegate Assembly - From NASW News Archives, Volume 1, November 1955

Wonderful and easily accessible sources for this research are the in-house publications of the organization.  In 2005, NASW celebrated its 50th anniversary as an incorporated entity formed by the merger in 1955 of seven organizations of professional social workers, so I began my research with the first issue of the NASW News (Volume 1, Number 1, November 1955).  

NASW holds a complete bound set of the publication, and what a wealth of information is contained in its pages!  The photograph on this page shows the first NASW Delegate Assembly in the process of casting their votes on a controversial motion. The image was published in NASW News , Volume 2, Number 1, November 1956, page 4, accompanying an article describing the actions taken by the delegates on that occasion; some delegates' impressions of the Assembly appear on the following page of that issue. 

NASW looks forward to sharing more NASW Archives Project news and photographs with you as we continue to assemble documentation of the history of NASW - and its contributions and those of its leaders to the profession of social work.  Thank you for generously supporting The NASW Legacy Project.

NASW Social Work Pioneer Ruth Irelan Knee In Conversation - From NASW Archives

Historic photograph of NASW Social Work Pioneer Ruth Irelan Knee in conversation. The Knee/Wittman Health and Mental Health Achievement Awards were established in honor of Ruth Knee and Milton Wittman.

Rhoda G. Sarnat, LCSW And Bernard Sarnat, MD - From NASW Archives

Historic photograph of NASW Social Work Pioneer Rhoda G. Sarnat, LCSW and her husband Bernard Sarnat, MD. The International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award is presented to an individual, group, or organization by the NASW Foundation in her honor.

NASW Social Work Pioneer And Former NASW President Kurt Reichert Marches In New York - From NASW Archives

Civil Rights Documentary

How NASW Mobilized for Civil Rights is narrated by Kurt Reichert, NASW President from 1963-1965. This documentary describes NASW’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.  Receive a complimentary DVD copy with your gift of $20 or more to The NASW Legcy Project by contacting the NASW Foundation at 202-336-8298.