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SW 905: Historical and Current Analysis of Social Work and Social Problems: Secondary Sources (Reference Books and Journal Articles)

Start with Secondary Sources

Use secondary sources to:

  • Define the scope of your topic
  • Identify relevant search terminology
  • Identify specific topics of interest for primary sources
  • Follow up on bibliography references and other clues...perhaps to primary sources


Below you will find Reference Books and Journal Article Databases.

You may also want to check out the Social Welfare History Group website.  A division of the American Historical Association (also closely affiliated with NASW and CSWE), the SWHG "encourage[s] the teaching of history and the value of doing historical research on social work and social welfare through presentations at conferences, publication of bibliographies and articles and dissertations."

Reference Books (Background Information)

Some recommendations for specific titles. You can also use a reference database like SAGE Knowledge to search across multiple titles at once. Or identify other subject-specific encyclopedias and handbooks in the library catalog.

Article Databases

Social Services Abstracts

SSA is the main disciplinary database for social work and closely related fields. Indexing goes back to articles published in 1980. Relevant subject terms to include in your search:

"history of social work"

"social history"

America History and Life

The key database for American (and Canadian) history. Indexing goes back to articles published in 1910. Relevant subject terms to include in your search:

"social history"

"social historians"


Also try including the keyword phrase "social welfare"

Historical Abstracts

For those that need non-U.S. international history articles, this database provides access to historical articles for the Modern period (1450 to the present) for Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Latin America.

Additional Multidisciplinary and Subject-Specific Indexes

Consult the Social Work Resources guide for a more complete listing of options.

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