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Social Welfare projects and partners grow in 2018-19

The Social Welfare History Project continues to serve the public as both an educational resource and a portal for reference questions related to the site’s materials. 

More than 1.5 million visits to the project were recorded, most of which occurred during the school year. Undergraduates, public school students and researchers accessed hundreds of different articles.

The most highly used article was “Jim Crow Laws and Racial Segregation,” which was viewed more than 44,000 times. 

Other frequently consulted entries included:

Among the new articles posted this year, two were especially noteworthy. “Your Girl and Mine” recounts the story of a lost suffrage film that played in Richmond in March 1915. This piece also uncovered the names of 17 women appearing in a well-known photograph of the Equal Suffrage League of Richmond as they promoted the film. In October, guest author Breanna Schuetz, an M. S. W. student at UNC-Greensboro, contributed an article about social worker Alan Keith-Lucas

The project’s companion site, the Social Welfare History Image Portal, expanded significantly. It welcomed four new partner institutions and added more than 150 new documents and photographs.

Four new “Discovery Sets” were created as introductions to topics for archival research. “Valuable connections between institutional collections became increasingly apparent,” said Alice W. Campbell, who manages the project. “This year, for example, Issues of The Southern Frontier (Stitt Library at Austin Seminary) and The Interracial News Service (Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries) greatly enhanced possibilities for study of pre-civil rights era efforts to improve race relations.”

New Partners

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Stitt Library The Southern Frontier publication of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. 

Tulane University Libraries, materials on job discrimination, LGBTQ activism, school desegregation, and a New Oreleans orphanage

Brandeis University – World War I posters, manuscript by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, pamphlet signed by Louis Brandeis of his famous “True Americanism” speech

Virginia Museum of History & Culture range of materials dating as early as 1866, related to emancipation, public health, suffrage, labor and LGBTQ history. 

New Discovery Sets  

  • Child Laborexamines the exploitation of children in factories and mines, and early efforts to regulate or eliminate the practice beginning around 1900.
  • The White Plague: TuberculosisAlso known as consumption or “the white death,” tuberculosis remains one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases. This set examines the history of efforts to prevent the spread of TB through public education and improved health care facilities.
  • Annotating SuffrageUsing the non-profit browser extension,, this set creates a virtual discussion space around a collection of suffrage handbills in preparation for the upcoming centennial of the 19th Amendment.
  • Controlling the Vote. Rights. Registration. RepresentationLacking the power to control how people vote, the next best option for ensuring who gets elected is to control who can vote. “Controlling the Vote” looks at the complicated and contentious history of attempts to control suffrage, voter registration, and access to the polls. 

Image Portal users responded with great enthusiasm for the Discovery Set “Comics on a Mission: Educational and Public Service Comic Books.” A tweet to this set from an Eisner Award winner immediately brought more than 1,000 visitors to the site. One comic collaboration between Marvel and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, The Amazing Spider-Man vs.The Prodigy! was viewed more than 2,000 times in the past year.

Outreach and presentations 

Project manager Campbell had a busy year getting the word out about these valuable online resources and how they might be used in the classroom. Campbell was invited to speak at the NASW Pioneers luncheon at the National Woman’s Democratic Club, Washington, DC, and for the Jefferson Senior Living community in Arlington, Va. She gave numerous conference presentations and shared the Image Portal widely.

  • Teach with Stuff Unconference, Library of Congress, Washington, 
  • Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit. George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.
  • Virginia Library Association/College and Research Libraries, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Virginia Forum, Longwood University, Farmville, Va.
  • Museums and the Web Conference, Boston  

This outreach paid off as the number of visitors to the Image Portal doubled from the previous year, with page views exceeding 28,117 for 2018-2019. Like its companion project, analytics reveal the highest usage during week days of the school year. While efforts continue in the long process of building an audience, the climbing statistics are very encouraging.

The Emerging Sources Citation Index: Discover trending research

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Logo: Emerging Sources Citation Index from Clarivate AnalyticsThe Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) was added to the Web of Science (WoS) platform to deepen and expand the subject coverage of WoS’ Core Collection, including in the humanities and social sciences. The peer-reviewed publications curated for this index are selected partly for their emerging research content, international scope and regional importance. They all must pass a rigorous editorial evaluation. Many of its journals are further evaluated for inclusion in WoS’ other indexes, but initial inclusion in ESCI allows the contents to be searched in WoS prior to an exhaustive review, which takes far more time to complete.

For VCU researchers, the addition of ESCI means extended coverage in their WoS searches and an enhanced ability to identify global collaboration opportunities in trending areas. It provides early career researchers with increased exposure as well, since they are more likely to publish in less established journals. And even though ESCI journals are not given impact factors, because they are included in WoS citation counts, they may provide a boost to faculty’s h-index scores when they go up for promotion and tenure.

VCU Libraries’ recent purchase of the ESCI backfile gives VCU researchers full access to ESCI from 2005 to the present. This backfile includes more than 5,600 journals, with 71 percent of content from outside of North America and 54 percent of records new to the Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities content. With 46 percent of journals not indexed by WoS’s competitors, the full ESCI package offers VCU researchers a quality, interdisciplinary option for discovering global and specialized trends in research.

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By Ibironke Lawal, Engineering and Science Collections Librarian, and Karen Gau, Health Sciences Collection Librarian

Image from Clarivate Analytics.

ICPSR: Consortium for Political and Social Research

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Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is an international consortium of more than 750 academic institutions and research organizations. It provides leadership and training in data access, curation and methods of analysis for the social science research community.

ICPSR maintains a data archive of more than 250,000 files of research in the social and behavioral sciences. It hosts 21 specialized collections of data in education, political and social behavior, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, history, terrorism, economics and other fields.

ICPSR collaborates with a number of funders including U.S. statistical agencies and foundations, to create archives organized around specific topics. Thematic collections and the new services created for them bring a dynamism to ICPSR from which the broader social science research community benefits. The funders provide new data, in most cases free to everyone, and this stimulates more research. The funded archives and ICPSR collaborate to build additional infrastructure for effective data use and discovery.

For a breakdown of some of the types of data collected

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by Pattie Sobczak, business and public policy collections librarian

Image: Measures of Effective Teaching Database

Social Work Center: Resources for clinical practice

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Social Work Reference Center supports clinical practice for social workers, nurses, allied health professionals, mental health professionals and inter-professional health care teams. Content is organized into core areas such as: Diseases and Conditions, Practices and Skills, Assessment Tools, Drugs, Patient Education, Practice Guidelines, and Current Legislation

Located within those areas are

  • Evidence-based quick lessons summarize common conditions, causes and risk factors; contraindications and precautions; assessment and care plans; desired outcomes and outcome measures; best practices and prevention.
  • Evidence-based care sheets detail the best and most current clinical data for specific diseases and conditions. All evidence is evaluated according to a seven-step methodology to ensure the best and most current evidence is presented.
  • Clinical assessment tools are designed for assessing a client through devices used for measuring a given phenomenon (e.g., pain or coping). These can include interviewing, research tools, a questionnaire or a set of guidelines for observation.

Social Work Reference Center also provides access to free continuing education modules that offer CE credits online. Each module includes course material, an interactive review and a competency test along with a certificate of successful completion. New VCU users can pre-register online.

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By Nita Bryant, behavioral and social sciences research librarian

Image: Generations by Christopher Michel