Archives from a Distance | Welfare Records

Course: Human Development Research Methods (Dr. Jenell Holstead)

Context:

  • Upper Division Human Development and Psychology Course; 25 students per semester
  • Assignment: Students will research the changes in the welfare system and learn advanced research methods with primary sources
  • Students explored Green Bay welfare case files from the 1930s to the 1980s. The files contain applications for welfare assistance and notes from social workers. Students were able to study the changes in the social work profession as well as understand the practices of providing welfare assistance over a span of time. Students discussed development of research methodologies and questions to work with the original aggregate data.
  • To meet enrollment needs, the instructor added an online section of the course. The archives assignment had proved meaningful and the instructor did not want to give it up in the digital environment. The Archives staff was able to find a method to make the records available for the digital classroom so the assignment could continue.

The opportunity for students to see first-hand how societal changes influenced the policies and practices conducted is unique and innovative.”