Zilpha Drew Smith


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(1852–1926) Zilpha Drew Smith developed the method of friendly visiting in the charity organization movement. Born in Pembroke, Massachusetts, she was trained as a telegraph operator at Boston Normal School. She began her career as head of office staff with Associated Charities of Boston in 1879, and in 1886 was appointed general secretary. Smith devised a systematic approach to screening and investigating relief applications by using friendly visitors. She later helped Mary Richmond develop a similar program in Baltimore. In 1888 Smith founded the Monday Evening Club, the country's first social workers’ discussion group. A strong advocate of trained charity workers, she left direct service to help develop a school of social work. Smith became associate director of the Boston School of Social Work in 1904 and remained there until her retirement in 1918. In later years, she became convinced of the necessity for public assistance and helped shape the legislation for mothers’ aid in Massachusetts. She wrote Deserted Wives and Deserting Husbands (1901).

From Encyclopedia of Social Work in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Social Work.