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Ernest Bouldin Harper papers

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-17.22

Scope and Contents

The Ernest B. Harper papers document Harper's professional contributions to the field of social work and social work education, particularly through his membership in the National Council on Social Work Education (NCSWE), the American Association of Schools of Social Work (AASSW), and the Association for the Study of Community Organization (ASCO). The first series of related materials correspond to Harper's participation in AASSW (1936-1952). Included are his personal correspondence with the social work community and its various officials. During this period, Harper helped establish classes to train future social workers. Many of his letters contain his inquiries about various curricula and programs. These files also include agendas of AASSW meetings; problems in education (i.e. improvement of graduate programs, less ambiguous undergraduate programs), as well as business information relating to the operation of the association (i.e. operating costs, amended by-laws, etc.). The second series of related materials document Harper's participation in ASCO (1945-1955), first as a standing member, and later as Board Member and President. This organization studied community organization in the area of social welfare. Its projects included analyzing various community concerns and making suggestion for improvement. The ASCO records include copies of Board meeting itineraries, issues addressed, progress reports on past studies, and workshops and discussion group material. The third series of materials outline Harper's involvement with NCSWE (1946-1951). This organization focused on the educational aspect of social work. However, they concentrated more on particular studies rather than on education. Included are meeting outlines, correspondence regarding grants, appointment of officials and other operations material, study committee records, a summary of the Hollis-Taylor Report (an in-depth study of social work), committee reaction, and newsletters and publications related to this subject. The final series includes records on the first eight Invitational Conferences on Undergraduate Education; some of Harper's personal papers, including his diary; and a select group of some of his publications between 1934 and 1948.


  • Creation: 1936 - 1961


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

Ernest Bouldin Harper was born to Dr. Charles E. and Marie Louise Bouldin Harper in Danville, Virginia on December 6, 1883. He married the former Lyssa Chalkley and had two children. He received his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Virginia, and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1922. He also received his certificate from the London School of Economics, and later studied at the New York School of Social Work. Prior to working at Michigan State, Harper was a representative of the Michigan Emergency Welfare Relief Administration (1935-1936), associate professor of Sociology and Social Work at Vanderbilt University (1934-1935), and an administrator at Kalamazoo College (1923-1924). He also served as a second lieutenant in World War One. He came to Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) in 1935 as a lecturer in Social Work, becoming head of the Department of Sociology in 1936. He served in this post until 1944, when he became the head of the Social Work Department (the name was changed to the School of Social Work in 1956). Harper's major contributions to the university, aside from his teaching and administrative posts, include the reorganization of graduate programs in Social Work; the co-authorship of three books: American Charities and Social Work, Social Organization and Disorganization, and Readings in Community Organization for Social Welfare; and chairing of numerous campus committees which improved faculty and course programs. He also wrote numerous published articles.


2 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University.

Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Ernest Bouldin Harper Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
S. Stawicki
June 1982
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US