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The Material Presence of Early Social Work: The Practice of the Archive

Published on Jun 1, 2011in British Journal of Social Work1.569
· DOI :10.1093/bjsw/bcq139
Adrienne Chambon7
Estimated H-index: 7
(U of T: University of Toronto),
Marjorie Johnstone5
Estimated H-index: 5
(U of T: University of Toronto),
Julia Winckler1
Estimated H-index: 1
(U of T: University of Toronto)
Abstract
This article focuses on the practice of archival research and addresses the methodology and work of interpretation that are at stake in dealing with a multiplicity of archival media: texts, images and objects. It raises questions that arise from the archive of a Toronto child-care agency that celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2009. This work is part of a project that links social work practices to cultural representations. By exploring the knowledge and practices of early social work in English Canada, and the culturally marked assumptions of an era whose influence has continued to this day, we seek to understand social work practices in conjunction with broader debates or disputes of the time. Treating each source as a material object shows us the multifaceted nature of the agency's work, as each material fragment brings another angle of comprehension into view.
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