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This paper will explore
three important aspects that Harry Hopkins achieved in this social work
career.  Fist the path he took in working
within the social work field, second the contributions he made and lastly how his
work could inform individuals working in the practice of a social worker.  Utilizing eight different articles, this
paper will explore the life of Harry Hopkins and how he had an account of the
impact on public policies here in the United States, and how no other social
worker has had the influence in changing the direction of American social

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Keywords: paths, contributions, inform
the social work now


Social Work and Social Change

the year 1926, Harry Hopkins, who was the Director of the New York Tuberculosis
Society, who would go on to be one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s closest advisors and
became a designer of the New Deal.  Harry
Hopkins wrote, “The field of social work and public health are inseparable, and
not artificial boundaries can separate them. 
Social work is interwoven in the whole fabric of the public health
movement, and has directly influenced it at every point” (Hopkins, 1926).   A review of social work’s past and current
efforts can highlight its contemporary value. 
Hopkins believed that there was a creative understanding in face-to-face
relationships.  The immediate problems of
this Association of social workers explain Kurzman (1977) is to bring together
social work and public administration. 
When Harry Hopkins passed in 1946, his most important legacy to the
American people was the idea that human welfare is the first and final task of
government.  Hopkins was the man explains
Cupaiuolo (2002), whose personal values, particularly service to others,
coupled with first-hand experience as a social worker and intelligent in
political skills, managed to launch a social welfare revolution when the
country needed it most.

Hopkins was born on August 17 in Sioux City, Iowa in the year of 1890.  He grew up in a customary Midwestern
family.  Harry was the fourth born to
David and Anna Hopkins.  Harry Hopkins
moved from Iowa to Nebraska, then to Chicago and back to Iowa to study at
Grinnell College explains Brinkley (n.d.). 
Hopkins had a professor named Jesse Macy whom he took political science,
reviews Schnell (2000), in which he learned to apply the scientific method to
social work.  He also studied American
Politics and the British Parliamentary system, which will help him later in his
path.  Shortly after he finished with
college affirms Mcilvaine (2000), he went to New York and began his career at
the age of 22 in the ghettos of New York. 
He was working for charitable organizations conveys Cupaiuolo, (2002)
such as the American Red Cross, New York City’s Association for improving the
Condition of the Poor, and the New York Tuberculosis Association. 

the beginning of his career his own sins testifies Schnell (2000) of smoking,
drinking, and gambling to overindulgence became a little too much and he became
dysfunctional, which lead him to be the first political figure to receive psychoanalysis.  In 1915 New York Mayor John P. Mitchell
appointed Hopkins to the position of secretary in the bureau of children
welfare voices Mcilvaine (2000), just around the time of America’s entry into
WWI.  Hopkins moved to New Orleans, where
he worked as a director of civilian Relief, American Red Cross Gulf
Division.  He was appointed general
manager in 1921.  Hopkins then returned
to New York in 1922 continues Mcilvaine (2000) assuming the position of general
director of the New York Tuberculosis Association, which grew a great deal.  Hopkins enabled the draft for the American
Association of Social Workers, and was elected its president in 1923. 

was noticed by then New York governor Franklin Roosevelt.  Hopkins was asked to run the first state
relief organization in the nation, the Temporary Emergency Relief
Administration replies Kurzman (1977).  In
1928 Hopkins supported Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt for the governorship of
New York, and Roosevelt rewarded him three years later by naming Hopkins the
head of the state’s new Temporary Emergency Relief Administration continued
Kurzman (1977).  Hopkins later supported
Roosevelt’s campaign for the presidency and his promise of a ‘New Deal’ for
Americans in 1933, President Roosevelt appointed Hopkins to be his federal
emergency relief administrator, and from 1935 to 1938 explains Mcilvaine
(2000), Hopkins headed the Works Progress Administration.  Hopkins was enlisted into Franklin D. Roosevelt’s
Brain Trust, which included several of Hopkins’s Grinnell College Alumni
continued Mcilvaine (2000).  Hopkins and
the Brain Trust were critiqued for unnecessary spending by old-fashioned
members of congress, who claimed that the economy would sort itself out in the
long run.  To which Hopkins replied
states Mcilvaine (2000) “people don’t eat in the long run, they eat everyday.”

than giving needy people handouts, Hopkins liberally granted money to the
states for work programs explains Schottland, 1975).  His detractors mockingly referred to him as
the leader of a bunch of ‘leaf-rakers.’ 
Hopkins worked closely with the First Lady remarks Mcilvaine (2000), to
promote and defend other relief agencies that include the Civil Works
Administration (CWA), the Federal Surplus Relief Administration, (FSRA), the
Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Tennessee Valley Authority
(TVA).  Most of these programs existed to
the end of their usefulness explains Mcilvaine (2000) some were challenged in
court and eventually cancelled, but the TVA remains a powerful and accepted
agency to this day.  The National Labor
Relations Act Which instituted collective bargaining in the workplace, and the
creation of the Social Security Administration, were two of the most powerful
and durable programs of the New Deal expressed Brinkley (n.d)

one hour of being sworn in by President Roosevelt as administrator of the
Federal Emergency Relief Administration, Hopkins was preparing to distribute
more than $5 million in federal funds to states express Kurzman (1977).  The funds, intended to help support those
hardest hit by the Great Depression, Paid for work performance, cash grants,
groceries and clothing.  Hopkins is
credited as being only to Eleanor Roosevelt explains Mcilvaine (2000), in
keeping the president’s attention focused on the needy of the nation.  Hopkins believed in relief efforts that
centered on work.

played a major role in the development of the Social Security Act.  As a member of the Committee on Economic
Security, states Schottland (1975), which was comprised of four cabinet
secretaries and Hopkins, he was a major factor in shaping the committee’s
recommendations that resulted in the Social Security Act.  Hopkins brought social work into a prominent
place in the public arena.  He insisted
on high professional standards continue Schottland (1975), and defended social
work and social workers.  Without his
leadership it is likely that social work and social workers would have had
little relationship to the massive public welfare programs of 1975.  Harry Hopkins was responsible for this
“revolutionary evolution” continues Schottland (1975) from poor law to public
welfare and his contribution has make an indelible imprint on our current way
of life.  Harry Hopkins has given a
priceless gift to the American people explains Schottland, (1975).

bulk of social workers serve in direct care roles, such as counseling, health education,
and a crisis intervention.  However,
social workers also practice at intermediary levels as navigators and care
managers, and at the macro level, in health administration, research, advocacy,
and policy (Browne, 2012).  Harry Hopkins
provided key leadership in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic stabilization efforts
and helped establish the New Deal and Social Security Act of 1935.  The prominence of social workers in federal
leadership positions enabled the profession to shape the myriad social welfare
programs.  As Hopkins knew a hundred
years ago, the profession of social work, with its deep roots and ongoing
pragmatic presence in public health, is a sister profession of consequence,
involved in addressing what matters now. 
It is time to recognize its historic significance, value its current
capabilities and contributions, and provide leadership for expanding its place
in the broader public health enterprise.

thus, made two great contributions to public administration.  First, he ushered in a new era of diplomatic
relations.  It would be one more
realistic, more modern, and in many ways, more flexible than that known
before.  It would mark the early stages
of a continuing quest for a cooperative federalism with federal, state, and
local governments as working partners expressed Kurzman (1977).  Second, in both style and performance,
Hopkins symbolized a break with the traditions of public administration, which
had held sway during the first two decades of the century.  In this sense he was ahead of his time,
rejecting the fixed principles of administration carefully set them down, and
practicing a theory or organizational cooperation several years before Chester
Barnard made the notion popularly acceptable (Kurzman, 1977).

the young age of 56 Harry Hopkins left this world nine months after Franklin D.
Roosevelt.  Mcilvaine (2000), talks about
those nine months Hopkins worked with President Harry Truman’s administration
and was a major supporter of the formation of the United Nations.  Truman awarded Hopkins the Distinguished
Service Medal.










A. (n.d). Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the
Cold War The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to
Defeat Hitler. Journal Of American History, 100(2),

T. (2012).  Social Work Roles and
Health-Care settings.  Health Social Work. (2nd ed.).
NJ: Wiley.

A. A. (2002). HARRY HOPKINS (Book). Administration In Social Work, 26(3),

H.L. (1926).  The Place of Social Work In
Public Health.  National Conference of Social Work. 
Cleveland: OH.

Review Of Public Administration, 1(3), 350-363.

B. (2000, April).  Harry Hopkins:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Deputy President.  American

J. C. (2000). Harry Hopkins: Sudden Hero, Brash Reformer. Journal Of
American History, (2), 721.

C. I. (1975). Harry Hopkins and the New Deal (Book). Social Work, 20(6),










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