Mary Ellen Richmond (1861-1928) was an American social work pioneer.
She was born in 1861 in Belleville, Illinois and lived until 1928. Her parents died when Mary was very young, whichforced her to live with her grandmother and aunts in Baltimore, Maryland. Her grandmother was an active women's suffragist who was well known for being a spiritualist and a radical. She grew up beingconstantly surrounded by discussions of suffrage, political and social beliefs, and spiritualism. This meant she was handed down good critical thinking skills and a caring attitude toward the poor, needyand disabled. Richmond was home schooled until the age of eleven, and then entered a public school. She had to be home schooled because her grandmother didn't believe in the traditional educationsystem. When she was home schooled she dedicated herself to many readings, and was mostly self-taught through her dedication to learn. She graduated High School at sixteen and went to live with one ofher aunts in New York until she became very ill and left Mary to fend by herself, leaving her in poverty. After living in poverty for two years in New York she returned to Baltimore and worked forseveral years as a bookkeeper, and became extremely involved with the Unitarian Church and developed good social skills. In 1888, she applied for a job as Assistant Treasurer with the Charity OrganizationSociety (COS). This organization was in several cities, and was the first organization to develop a structured social work profession which provided services to the poor, disabled, and needy. Herinvolvement in this organization lead to her contributions in social work.
Contribution to social work
Mary Richmond increased the public's awareness of the COS and for fundraising. She was trainedto be a "friendly visitor," which was the term for a caseworker. She visited the homes of people in need and tried to help them improve their life situation. She began to develop many ideas of how...
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