75th Anniversary History Project

faculty and staff, 1961

Social Work faculty and staff, 1961

In 2005, under the leadership of Dean Nancy J. Smyth, our school committed resources to an exciting project that documented the history of this dedicated 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 updated chronicle of the school’s history had been published, in 1984.

So much has transpired since that last publication. A new effort was long overdue. The UB School of Social Work History Project was initiated in the summer of 2005. The modern project was built upon 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 historical perspective about the School to community stakeholders such as alumni, faculty, students, and Buffalo’s community agency staff members.

For the project, one of the earliest 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 the School’s closing in the economically challenging 1980s.

The UB School of Social Work History Project intended to both document the School’s history and also to collect materials and information before it was completely lost or forgotten. Principal investigators Denise Krause and Susan Green and staff videotaped approximately 60 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.