NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Genevieve Carter (1907 - 1998)
An illustrious and internationally respected social researcher, Genevieve Carter was associated with the School of Social Work in various roles from 1946; she served on the faculty full time from 1968 to 1974. A native of Illinois, she moved with her family to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she came to know well the Indians—and their culture—who brought goods to trade with her father, a jeweler. After attending the University of New Mexico for a psychology degree, she earned a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley and worked with faculty on social research projects focused on children. When the Japanese were interned at Manzanar, she took the position of Director of Education and Social Activities, living in the camp for the three years of its existence.
In 1946 Dr. Carter became director of the Research Department of the Welfare Planning Council of Los Angeles. This was the primary social welfare planning agency in the region, the planning arm of the Community Welfare Federation of which the Community Chest was the fund-raising arm. In her role as director of research, Dr. Carter utilized the services of many volunteers in the community: Dr. Robert Docks, Dean of the USC School of Business, for many years served as chairman of her research advisory committee, for example, and Dr. Arlien Johnson, the Dean of the School of Social Work, was intimately involved in many of her research and community organization undertakings. She also served as field instructor for social work interns, and taught courses in research and community organization in the School of Social Work.
After 18 years, during which she had become director of the Welfare Planning Council, Dr. Carter moved to Washington, D.C., to head research for the then- Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Here, as had been true in Los Angeles, she was instrumental in conducting social research that led to policy formulations of national value and, particularly, to California. When, in 1968, the USC School of Social work received a federal grant to establish one of six regional Social Welfare Research Institutes, Dr. Carter was persuaded to become its director and again to teach in the School. In the six years of its existence, this Institute produced a number of important studies that added insights to understanding of disadvantage populations and how to work with them, and they effectively influenced the shaping of local and state—and sometimes, federal—social policy. Before her retirement, Dr. Carter's research interests, which had started with children, now turned to the aging and after her retirement she collaborated in, as well as directed, a number of significant projects with the Andrus Gerontology Center, especially in the arena of nursing home care and the concept of case management. In fact, her writings and research on case management brought her special and continuing national recognition, with the term and concept becoming a popular focus of service-delivery.
Retirement did not bring an end to Dr. Carter's professional activities. After several years in southern California during which she continued to conduct research under the auspices of the School and of the Gerontology Center, she returned to Albuquerque to live. At once she became a leader in the State's programs for the elderly and for Indians, serving as chair of the State's Commission on Aging and on its Indian Advisory Board. Until her death, she was still much in demand for talks, research, and consultation regarding both subjects.
Two other points about Dr. Carter deserve attention. One is the use foreign Universities made of her as a consultant in social research—especially in Cairo, Warsaw, Vienna, Prague, and Berlin. In several of these countries, primarily Poland and Berlin, her services were sought for help in how to proceed to locate children missing as a result of World War II.
The other is recognition of Dr. Carter's personal qualities of warmth and concern about people, by Dr. and Mrs. John Paulus, who established in the School a trust of $100,000 in her name because—though they personally had never met—Dr. Carter had been kind to Mrs. Paulus, lonely mother!
Dr. Carter was the recipient of various awards—from voluntary social agencies, from government agencies in California, Washington, D.C., and New Mexico, as well as professional associations. She is honored with a plaque in the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the National Association of Social Workers as an "outstanding pioneer".