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75th Anniversary History Project

Social Work faculty and staff, 1961

Under the leadership of Dean Nancy J. Smyth, our school committed resources to an exciting project that documented the history of this great center of social work training and research.

With each passing decade, a new chapter has been added to the already rich history of one of the first schools of social work in the nation. It had been over 20 years, however, since an effort to chronicle the story of the school had been published, in 1984.

So many events have transpired since the last publication of the School’s history that a new effort was long overdue. In fact, many members of the School community realized the crucial need to capture the full scope of the School’s history.

As a result, the UB School of Social Work History Project was initiated in the summer of 2005. The modern project was built upon the earlier efforts, and was designed to retell the School of Social Work story from its founding in the 1930s.

Another project goal was to provide needed historical perspective about the School to community stakeholders such as alumni, faculty, students, and the staff of Buffalo’s community agencies.

One of the first graduates of the School recalled her class of six students and the school’s early days; alumni and faculty described the atmosphere of the School during the tumultuous 1960s and ’70s; and faculty — and one former UB president — discussed the strong community support generated to prevent closure of the School in the 1980s.

The UB School of Social Work History Project was an effort to document the School’s history and also to collect materials and information that may have been lost or forgotten. Principal investigators Denise Krause and Susan Green and staff conducted some 60 videotaped interviews with alumni, former deans, UB presidents and faculty members.

The resulting documentary video, Living Proof. Reflections on 75 Years of Social Work Education, was produced in conjunction with Odessa Pictures, a Buffalo-based production company.

The interview snippets were selected to present portions of interviewees’ outstanding memories of experiences as a student, faculty or staff member at the School of Social Work.