John E. Hansan, Ph.D. -- Developer of the Social Welfare History Web Site

John E. Hansan, Ph.D. — Developer of the Social Welfare History Web Site

Introduction: The Social Welfare History (SWH) Web site is a nonprofit project designed to inform the public more about the history of American social welfare. It was designed and developed by John E. (Jack) Hansan, Ph.D.  A Scholar’s Advisory Committee composed of distinguished historians and others (see below) helped Dr. Hansan launch the Web site. Subsequently, a large number of Contributors (see list below) have volunteered entries and documents that are posted on the site. The SWH site is free to the public and it does not accept contributions or advertisements.

What is Social Welfare? Social welfare may be defined in many ways. For this project the definition used by the Social Welfare History Archives at the University of Minnesota Libraries was selected: Social Welfare is “…the range of organized activities that seek to alleviate, prevent, or contribute to the solution of social problems or to promote the well-being of individuals, groups, or communities.” No attempt is made to restrict the definition around a list of fields or organizations that constitute social welfare. Instead, the focus is on the process itself, rather than on the type or area of activity. This definition is able to accommodate an interesting array of historical efforts to combat or alleviate destitution, abuse, neglect, segregation or discrimination as well as describe individual, organizational and governmental efforts to enhance and maintain the social functioning of American society.

The Contents: Included are entries describing the historical public and nonprofit social services offered to benefit vulnerable classes of persons, e.g., the economically dependent, unemployed, immigrants, migrants, abandoned children, unwed mothers, the aged and the mentally and physically disabled. The SWH Web site is intended to reflect not just historical glory and greatness but also the actions, omissions or commissions of hurt, (such as discrimination toward children, women, minorities and the stigmatizing treatment of persons with physical and mental disabilities, etc.) The contents of the site will grow and expand over time; and, it is our goal that it will include a balanced perspective on a significant portion of American social welfare history.

Internet technology affords the opportunity to examine the overall historical context of an issue or an event from multiple perspectives and to present it in a way that is both accessible and engaging to the public. While designed for the general public the Web site also includes references to pertinent archives, libraries, scholarly Web sites, and other sources of reliable information about a particular historical subject, event or personage a students or historian may want to pursue. The major components (tabs) of the Web site include People, Events, Organizations, Programs, Eras, Recollections, Issues and About.

Scholars Advisory Committee

Contributor Biographies

Note: Individuals and organizations interested in contributing an entry or historical collateral to the SWH Web site are urged to e-mail: jhansan2000@yahoo.com.