NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
(Amy) Gordon Hamilton (1892 - 1967)
Miss Gordon Hamilton, social work educator at the New York School of Social Work at the Columbia University School of Social Work from 1923 to 1957. She also had several other associations. She was a relief administrator for the New York State Temporary Emergency Relief Administration taking a leave of absence from the school from 1935 through 1936. Earlier she had been Associate Director of Social Services and later, Adviser on Research at Presbyterian Hospital, New York City. In addition she was an International Social Welfare advisor through work with the Church World Services and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration from 1944 until 1952. At the Jewish Board of Guardian, in New York City she was a Research Consultant from 1947-1950.
Gordon Hamilton was a teacher and a writer of great renown. She was inspirational in the classroom, drawing upon a classical education as well as a sound practice background. She had clear ideas and strong beliefs about the direction and quality of social work education. This led her and other faculty to the development of the doctoral program in Social Work Education.
She was an outstanding contributor to social work literature. Her style of writing reflected a facility for language as well as clarity of thought.
As the outgrowth of her work with the Jewish Board of Guardians she published "Psychotherapy in Child Guidance" (1947). Although this book was sympathetic to psychoanalytic theory she made a strong distinction between psychoanalysis which she believed was outside the field of social work and psychotherapy. In the 1951 edition of "Therapy and Practice of Social Casework" she clearly integrated psychoanalytic theory while retaining its foundation in the traditional concrete services approach to casework Hamilton served as Associate Dean to the New York School of Social Work between 1952-1955. She retired entirely in 1957 as a result of her continuing poor health. At that time she was the first editor of the new National Association of Social Work journal named "Social Work."
Throughout her academic career she coupled practice - related activities with her writings. As a result her written work showed a constant evolution of her thinking. It can be said that "person- situation" and "knowledge-values" were the two foci of her theory of practice in casework. She believed that the integration of scientific knowledge and social values were the basics of practice.