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I wish somebody would start a quiet little evolutionary revolution in the whole big broad field of social case work, where I could be in on the side lines. Lots of things could be done that I’m confident would meet with a hearty response from SWs. When I told Chris Robb some of my ideas, she said “they’d laugh at you.” I said, “Do you suppose they didn’t laugh at me when I proposed the ‘psychiatric approach’? They called me ‘naive’ then; I wish I could make ‘them’ do it again.

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After decades of having to reassert her role as first director of SSW, Mary Jarrett enjoyed close personal and mentor relationships with two SSW directors in the final years of her life, Florence Day and Howard Parad.

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Florence Day, 1950s, Photographer: Unrecorded, Florence Hollis and Rosemary Reynolds Collection #203, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA.

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Florence Day, the next director of the SSW, treated Mary Jarrett as a font of wisdom she wanted to frequently visit. The letters below show their evolving communication and respect.

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Florence Day to Mary Jarrett Letters, Mary Jarrett Collection #83, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA.

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Black and white headshot
Photographer unrecorded, #3979, College Archives, Smith College, Northampton, MA.

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The respect Florence Day showed Jarrett continued as affection and esteem with next SSW Director, Howard Parad. Though only two letters, the following show Jarrett and Parad knew well each other’s families (meaning MJ’s companion Katrine and the “Parad Kinship Unit). The letters also show Parad leaning Jarrett for professional advice. Jarrett wrote her final letter with shaky hand as she awaited a cataract surgery. Despite her dim eyesight, her revolutionary spirit blazed forth.

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Howard Parad and Mary Jarrett Letters, Mary Jarrett Collection #83, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA.

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