MSSW

Dr. Hancock records that Dr. S.H. Prince (photo), a professor of Sociology at Dalhousie and Kings, early in 1941 told some social workers in the province that he thought it was time to establish a school of social work. A special Act of Incorporation was passed in the Nova Scotia Legislature on April 15, 1941

 From the beginning, aside from such matters as finances, space and university affiliation, one of the most pressing concerns for the Board was the eligibility of the graduates for membership in the Canadian Association of Social Workers.  With the assistance and support of the Halifax/Mainland Branch of CASW, the MSSW applied to CASW in 1943 for recognition of its graduates.  Approval was not granted based on the fact that the MSSW had no permanent staff.  The records show that in the years prior to approval being received this matter would diligently and continuously be brought before the CASW Board by the various representatives of the Nova Scotia Branch.

Mr. Lawrence Hancock, the Superintendent of the Nova Scotia School for Boys which was operated by the Department of Welfare, was appointed the full-time Director of the MSSW in 1949 but actually did not assume that post until 1950.  He spent the period from June, 1949 until June 1950 at the University of Chicago where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Services Administration.  He remained at the MSSW as Director until his retirement in 1973.  The University of Chicago was the alma mater of his mentor and close personal friend, Fred R. MacKinnon.  Here was a long term connection between the MSSW, the Department of Welfare and the Association of Social Workers.  Lawrence Hancock would serve in various capacities as a member of the Executive and on numerous committees in the Association throughout his career and was devoted to promoting and fostering the growth of the profession of social work.

During the 1950’s the efforts of the two entities – the MSSW and the Association – were intertwined and mutually supportive.  A major focus of the Association was the abolition of the Elizabethan Poor Law, the Poor Relief Act.  In addition there were other issues of concern such as the education of social workers, the need for more professionally educated social workers, qualifications required for social work, membership issues and the need to change the public’s perception of social work.  All of these were of concern to the MSSW as well and the Association was supported in its efforts to bring about change by the Board and the staff of the School.  In turn, the MSSW was seeking stability in terms of funding, finding a permanent home, university affiliation; recognition of its graduates by CASW, enhancement of its teaching staff, and the recruitment of students.  Support for its endeavors was forthcoming from the members of the Association and the still small but growing social work community in Nova Scotia.  After all the bulk of that community were graduates of the Maritime School of Social Work.

When matters such as the desire of MSSW to gain accreditation through affiliation with a single university came to the fore, the Association was supportive.  For example, in 1967 the President of the Association wrote a letter to the Board of Trustees of MSSW in support of the School’s pursuit of affiliation with Dalhousie University, encouraging the Board to move forward with the matter.