Abstract

This article focuses on a group of southern female social workers who, in the midst of extreme racial intolerance during the 1920s and 1930s, experimented with interracialist approaches to public service in an effort to combat the systemic problems of poverty and ignorance that plagued the region. In the aftermath of World War I, black and white social workers gained a significant foothold in state government and municipal public welfare programs in several southern states. As the nation experienced an economic depression, unprecedented federal relief efforts in the South enabled these women, as state agents, to advance a model of social service that challenged policies that gave "whites" greater access to government services. Their controversial approach was opposed by Georgia's Governor Eugene Talmadge who tried to use federal funds and programs for patronage purposes and obstructed relief efforts, especially among blacks. These women succeeded in convincing federal relief officials to federalize the Georgia New Deal, a move that gave them extraordinary administrative powers to execute relief rhetoric of "maternalism," that characterized women's public welfare reform movements, to see how female social workers creatively used and shaped state power in their struggles against fierce political and ideological opposition.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 132-154
Launched on MUSE
2002-01-01
Open Access
No
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