NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Frances Lomas Feldman (1912 - 2008)
Social policy and administration have been the center of Frances Lomas Feldman's professional career, which began in 1934. After a number of years as a social worker and administrator in the public welfare and the family service fields, in 1954 she joined the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California.
Her teaching areas were social welfare history, policy, and administration. Feldman's research and writing center on the psychological, social, and economic meanings of money and work in American families.
She has made several pioneering contributions to the profession. Her writings on the meanings of money still constitute the seminal work in this field and have received continued national and international attention. Her three research projects on work experience of persons with cancer health histories represent the first funding of psychosocial research by the American Cancer Society and remain the fundamental data on this topic of growing contemporary concern. Its findings and recommendations led several states to modify fair employment legislation.
Feldman was instrumental in establishing the first industrial social work curriculum in the west, as well as a University-funded staff faculty counseling center, which has become a model for the creation of employee counseling programs in some government and industry work places in California. With George Nickel, she established the first credit counseling services; 280 now exist throughout the nation under the auspices of the National Consumer Credit Association.
With Norris Class, Feldman helped to create the still operating Delinquency Control Institute at USC, a training facility for corrections and related personnel. It draws students for its training from around the United States and the world for its programs each year.
Feldman's social work skills have been called on by groups such as the McCone Commission to examine the Watts riots of 1965. Private corporations also call upon her to examine the impact of downsizing policies and actions on employees and their families. Her work on the Alaska Rural Areas Social Services Demonstration not only was ranked by the University of Florida as one of the ten most successful demonstration projects ever funded by HEW, but also led to an invitation from the governments of Mali and Morocco for consultation about dealing with similar problems in those countries.
Numerous awards and honors have been bestowed on her. She has served on a number of state and national committees and commissions, including chairing the Governor's Advisory Committee on Mental Health. Although officially retired in 1982, she continues to do research, lecture, and volunteer activities at US, to serve on several agency boards in the wider community, and to conduct invited workshops in various parts of the United States and in other countries.