Plan D: Bertha Capen Reynolds Plans Supervisor Training

After joining the SSW faculty as Associate Director in 1925, Bertha Capen Reynolds spent the first few years of her teaching life getting her feet under her. As her early letters to Everett Kimball attest, she was unsure of her skills at teaching even as her students swiftly came to love her.

By 1933, she had gained enough confidence in teaching, but also so many followers, that she began to look at more distant horizons. She saw more social workers in need of training than she could ever possibly educate. She needed help. So she began to petition Kimball and Smith President William Neilson to let her take a break from the Associate Directorship and apply herself to developing what she called “Plan D*.” It was an antecedent of both the Program for Advanced Study/Ph.D. program and the Continuing Education Seminars that came later because her plan was to train graduates of social work schools to better supervise and educate new social workers.

*Plan D because the School already had a Plan A, B, and C for the Masters students.

Black and white photo of Bertha Capen Reynolds leaning into Annette Garrett, both looking at camera.

Bertha Capen Reynolds and Annette Garrett, 1935, Photographer: Marjorie Robinson, M.S.S. 1937, School for Social Work Records, RG 60 Box 1315, College Archives, Smith College, Northampton, MA.

In 1935, the school hired Annette Garrett to take over as Associate Director and Reynolds became “Associate Director in charge of Advanced Courses”

The course bulletin described the new course this way:

“For graduates of social work who have had adequate background in the social sciences and in psychiatry, and who have had at least two years’ experience in social case work. The number will be limited to twenty-five persons who are definitely planning to complete the course covered by Sessions VI to VIII inclusive. The School reserves the right to select among applicants those having apparently the best qualifications for success in teaching case work either in the classroom or in the field.” 8 weeks, 9 months (Experience as supervisors of case work and teachers in a group of selected agencies under the direction and consultation of Miss Reynolds. Reports and reading courses.” Expected to have a salaried position.) 8 weeks

BCR, as she called herself, kept in contact with the Plan D students throughout the three years of the program’s existence by writing an extensive letter each month during the winter. The letters are rich with insight into social work education and BCR’s teaching methodology and personality. Below the letters are a Plan D description and its curriculum.

Bertha Capen Reynolds, Monthly Letters to Plan D students, 1935-1938, School for Social Work Records, RG 60 Box 1313, College Archives, Smith College, Northampton, MA.

Description of Plan D

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Plan D Description, January 1935, School for Social Work Records, RG 60 Box 1313, College Archives, Smith College, Northampton, MA..

Plan D Curriculum

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Plan D Curriculum, January 1935, School for Social Work Records, RG 60 Box 1313, College Archives, Smith College, Northampton, MA..