An Overview of the Project


Jane Wisdom
Jane Wisdom who was born in Nova Scotia in the late 1800's, was the first professional social worker in Nova Scotia. She was asked to head up the Bureau of Social Services in Halifax in 1916 and later accepted a position as the first welfare officer for Glace Bay. (Click menu bar for more details on the Pioneers of the profession)

It is facinating to read about the early work and accomplishments of the pioneers in our profession. The History Project was researched so that members of the profession and the public of today can appreciate the contributions that were made to establish and to develop the profession in Nova Scotia. Some made personal sacrifices and others struggled to change the prevailing public attitudes and social policies of the times that often resisted change.

The NSASW Executive approved the History Project in June 2002 with the following objectives:
· To review all available material and to interview persons who have recollections of their involvement in the NSASW in the past.
· To use this information to show the accomplishments of the Association over the past 40 years and to promote the profession in the future.

Just before her death in 2004, Frances Montgomery who was a pioneer social worker and life member of NSASW, donated $1,000.00 to the Association which was earmarked by the Executive for the History Project.

Our research took us from the early days of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW). Development of professional associations were commonly formed at the local or provincial level which then led to the formations of national ones. In the case of the NSASW, it was the national organization, the CASW, which developed first and then led to the formation of the provincial association. We followed the roots of the evolution of the NSASW from these beginnings to the present day.

The Maritime School of Social Work also played an important role in the development of the NSASW. Many of the social work pioneers had direct involvement in the formation of the school and supported it throughout their careers as well as guiding it to where it is today.

In the same way, we have found that those in government had a direct influence in the formation and development of the Association. Some of the pioneers had great vision and struggled to ensure that staff had professional education and continued to support their profession and to contribute their skills and talents.

Regulation of the profession was an on-going concern from the beginning. Assisted by the national organization, the debates, discussions and studies helped to clarify the issues and to advise provincial members on the best form and the right timing for introducing legislation to protect the public and promote the profession. From the least form of regulation, voluntary registration, to the highest form, licensure, the debate lasted 30 years as the membership grappled with all the divergent opinions.

Finally, we want to recognize the leadership of the social workers who have volunteered to fill the position of President of the Association from the beginning in 1963 to the present day. A plaque has been prepared listing all the Presidents and is displayed in the Association's office. As well, by searching through past issues of our newsletter, CONNECTION, and minutes of AGM's, Council, Executive, and committee meetings, we have tried to pull out the names of countless other individual social workers who were found to be engaged in, and contributing to, the work of the Association over the years.

This website has been set up to provide a summary of the work that was done. We have published a full and detailed document of the results of this project which was presented to the Association in November 2011. The intention of this project was to provide a source that accurately recorded the accomplishments and achievemnets of the association over the years and to serve as a link to past contributions that our Association and its members have made to our province, communities, and to the profession of social work. A copy of the "History of the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers (1963 - 2010)" is available in the NSASW library for members and others to view or a copy can be downloaded from the Internet (Click Here)

Bessie Harris, RSW and Harold Beals, RSW - Coordinators.