About the Library

Virginia Franks Memorial Library (Social Work Library) is designed primarily to serve the information needs of students, faculty, and staff of the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

The library collection covers as wide a range of subject areas as there are social issues and problems, with a focus on social work practice. Many titles are unique to social work, but much of the material in this field is also shared by allied disciplines such as:

  • child and family studies
  • psychology
  • health care
  • political science

The library continues to grow and change to meet the new challenges of our electronic age, yet our staff strives to maintain a personal approach in our daily interactions with our users. We welcome you to the library and we are open to your suggestions for improvement.

FAQ: Who was Virginia Franks?

Virginia Lee Franks
Jan. 30, 1910 – Dec. 4, 1971

Virginia Franks. Image from the UW Archives. Identifier: S14375

The School of Social Work Library was established in 1972 and was dedicated to the memory of Virginia Lee Franks, a professor of Social Work at UW-Madison since 1956, who had passed away in 1971 at the age of 61. Students from that era remember Franks as a welcoming and supportive colleague.

Prof. Franks was born in Thomasville, Missouri in 1910 and graduated from South Central Missouri State College in 1938. After teaching in both grade and high schools for several years, she enrolled for graduate training at Washington University in St. Louis, earning her master’s degree in social work in 1948. She worked with the Missouri Department of Health and Welfare in various capacities and taught on the staff of the Washington University School of Social Work 1951-53.

Among Prof. Frank’s most notable contributions to the field was her development of the concept of “the autonomous social worker,” which she defined in her 1967 paper with that title as a social worker whose “knowledge, skill and understanding allows for work wherever a social worker is needed whether or not an appropriate agency exists.” In the same paper she also emphasized the strong interdependence needed between on-campus academic courses and off-campus field courses for achieving the best educational results.

Works that mention her:

Burnette, D. (2016). Evidence, Expertise, and Ethics: The Making of an Influential in American Social Work. Research on Social Work Practice, 26(6), 609-621.

Miss Franks Rites. (1971, December 6). Wisconsin State Journal, p. 4.

Notes from the Schools. (1951). Social Service Review, 25(4), 530-533.

Virginia Franks Rite Tuesday. (1971, December 6). Capital Times, p. 32.

Works by her:

Franks, V. L. (1951). Shall we sneak up on our clients? Public Welfare. 9(5), 106-109, 123.

Franks, V. L. (1961, November). [Review of the book Ego, Psychology and Dynamic Casework edited by Howard J. Parad. Family Service Association of America 1958]. Marriage and Family Living, 23(4), 409-410.

Franks, V. L. (1966). The Role of the Field Course in the Development of the Autonomous Social Worker. Unpublished typescript, University of Wisconsin School of Social Work. Paper presented at meetings of National Council on Social Work Education, New York City January 1966

Franks, V. (1967). The Autonomous Social Worker (No. 1, An Occasional Paper of the School of Social Work). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin.

Franks, V. L. (1968, April). Usefulness of Research. Social Work, 13(2), 142-143.